The Los Angeles Lakers might be receiving some wing help in the form of a former champion with the organization. According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, the team’s rumored deal for Trevor Ariza is all but complete.
“I’ll tell you what, though, okay: In regards to Trevor Ariza going to the Lakers, I’ve had a handful of NBA executives tell me they’ve heard that’s going to happen. It’s done, it’s just a matter of everything else, like figuring out what the rest of that deal is.”
O’Connor later hedged a bit:
I wish I framed that comment differently while recording this morning. I meant it only as a response to Chris’ comment about Ariza/Jones/Lakers rumors not some definitive report. There’s more to figure out and other teams are in on Ariza. Also a lot of time between now and Dec 15— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) December 12, 2018
And even if this ultimately proves true, this deal still can’t happen until players signed this summer are eligible to be traded on Dec. 15, but shouts to James Jones. He might win Executive of the Year for the Lakers. We obviously have to wait for specifics of the deal, but between Tyson Chandler and Ariza, he’s set to have done quite a bit to help ensure his good friend LeBron is properly set up in Los Angeles.
Ariza has started this season rather slowly, and that context needs to be pointed out though. One reason to be optimistic about whether Ariza can turn things around this year is already on the Lakers roster.
Tyson Chandler seemed heading towards a quiet final chapter of his career until he was bought out and wound up a Laker. Since then, he’s turned around both his and the Lakers’ seasons, and remains the most positively impactful player on the roster, boasting a +11.3 net rating (meaning the Lakers are 11.3 points better than their opponents per 100 possessions with him on the court).
Ariza is having a down year all over the court, but Phoenix has been a complete and utter disaster for all of this season and much of the last decade or so. For veterans nearing the end of their careers, it’s hard to exert oneself when you’re surrounded by young players who don’t get it and and organization that routinely takes a shotgun to its own foot.
Maybe Ariza is just past his prime to the point where he won’t return to being the same kind of player, but if Chandler is anything to go off of, I’d feel pretty comfortable betting that an uptick would be coming. Ariza is only 33, and players tend not to fall off cliffs at that stage of their careers.
Remember, Ariza would be joining a roster already featuring LeBron James, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Svi Mykhailiuk (and Lance Stephenson if he isn’t a part of the trade) at his position. Some might think that position might be too crowded, but in 2018, you can never have too many wings on most rosters. Given the way the Lakers switch everything, this is especially true.
Because of that aforementioned wing depth, the Lakers are merely expecting short bursts of productivity from Ariza if they acquire him. So even if he’s fallen off precipitously at only 33, the idea would be that in fewer minutes he can be something close to what he was last season, when he helped the Houston Rockets nearly upset the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals.
We still have a few days before a deal involving contracts signed this summer can be completed, but if the Lakers are able to land Ariza in any kind of reasonable trade, they would be setting themselves up quite well for the remainder of the season and a playoff run.
This article has been updated to reflect that O’Connor later walked his report back a bit.