Portland Trail Blazers forward Trevor Ariza is opting out of participating in the NBA’s Orlando restart of the season, committing instead to a one-month visitation window with his young son, sources told ESPN.
Ariza, a starter, has been involved in a custody case over his 12-year-old son, and the mother’s decision to grant a court-ordered, one-month visitation period during the league’s quarantine of teams in Orlando, Florida, led Ariza to choose his parenting responsibilities over competing with the Blazers in the 22-team restart, sources said.
Ariza, 34, could lose between $1 million and $1.8 million in salary, based on whether the Blazers qualify for the playoffs, for not participating in the restart. Ariza has a minimally guaranteed $12.8 million contract for the 2020-21 season.
NBA players deciding to opt out of the league’s restart have until Wednesday to inform teams of their decisions. Franchises must submit travel parties — including rosters — by July 1. Once a team signs a replacement player, the original player can’t be added back onto the roster to play this season.
Portland will be allowed to sign a substitute player to replace Ariza.
The Blazers are 29-37, one of three teams within 3.5 games of eighth-seeded Memphis in the Western Conference. Teams will play eight seeding games in Orlando, and the team with the best record outside the top eight in each conference that lands within four games of the final playoff spot will compete in a play-in tournament.
Portland is expected to medically clear two key 7-footers — Zach Collins and Jusuf Nurkic — to rejoin the team after injuries kept both out for extended periods.
Ariza arrived with the Blazers in February as part of a trade with Sacramento and started every one of his 21 games for Portland — averaging 11 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1 steal a game. He shot 49% from the floor, including 40% on 3-pointers. For his career, Ariza has averaged 10.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 16 seasons.