After Kyrie Irving and his coalition lead protests against the return of the NBA season, two more players have backed out from the league. Portland Trail Blazers veteran Trevor Ariza and Washington Wizards sharpshooter Davis Bertans both withdrew their names on Monday.
Despite being 34, Ariza has proven indispensable for the Blazers. He joined them in January and since then had a big impact on their season. Out of the 21 games he has played, he has started all of them. So far in his time at Portland, he has had career-highs in EFG, FT%, and 2P%.
Bertans, who was traded to the Wizards during the 2019 off-season, has been a key player for the Washington franchise. He was having a career-year, averaging 15.4 points off the bench while shooting 42% from three. After star Bradley Beal, Bertans was second in their scoring charts.
While Bertans’ decision to not play is a career based decision, Ariza had to back out due to personal reasons.
Since he is entering the 2020 Free Agency, Bertans wants to avoid any injury and will be hoping to stay fit for the next season, to maximize his value. His current team, the Wizards, are 5.5 games behind the eighth seed Orlando Magic. They are the only non-playoff team from the Eastern Conference who were invited to the return. Bertans’ absence will be a huge miss, and may hamper their playoff chances even further.
On the other hand, Ariza will be sitting out to spend more time with his son. After being in a custody battle with the mother of his child, he was forced to choose between basketball and family. He chose the latter. Despite his importance to the team, parenting responsibility comes first for Ariza. The Blazers were not only relying on his experience and ability to shoot but also on his defense. His presence has been crucial to the team and the Blazers will look to resign him for the next season.
Overall, it’ll be a blow to both teams, who at the moment are out of the playoff standings, and would have to fight to get in. The NBA has allowed players to not play, reiterating that participation is not mandatory. Will the announcement of these two players not playing lead to more players opting out? Only time will tell.
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