With free agency a week away, we continue our look at potential targets for the Los Angeles Lakers. Our last edition featured Marcin Gortat, and this week, we focus our attention to his teammate, Trevor Ariza.
2013-14 Statistics: 14.4 PTS, 6.2 REB, 1.6 STL, 45.6 FG%
Ariza played extremely well for the Washington Wizards during the 2013-14 NBA season. Aided by his veteran presence, the Wizards exceeded expectations and reached the second round of the playoffs.
The last year of his contract saw Ariza put him arguably the best numbers of his career. As an unrestricted free agent, Ariza will be able to join any team he wishes should they provide him the terms he wants.
John Wall’s breakout year also paid dividends for Ariza’s offensive game. With Wall’s ability to attack the rim at will, Ariza made more three pointers this past season than he had in any previous season. His 2.3 per game average was the most on the Wizards.
Not only can Ariza make a number of threes a game, he can do so at an efficient rate. Ariza shot a career best 40.7 percent from beyond the arc. During the playoffs, he even improved his shooting and made 44.6 percent of his shots.
His ability to constantly hit a three helps in spreading out the defense and in turn allows point guards to get to the rim easier. While the philosophy may not be different than what the Lakers attempted to do last season, Ariza’s consistency beyond the arc would be welcomed.
For the majority of his career, Ariza has been considered to be one of the better perimeter defenders. Even though he has lost some quickness as he got older, Ariza can still matchup against opposing teams’ best wing players.
In addition, Ariza can still steal the ball extremely well. He can both guard ball handlers and play in the passing lanes with his 7’2″ wingspan. On the season, he was second on the Wizards in steals. Ariza helped the Wizards in becoming the fourth best team in causing turnovers over the year.
With the Lakers, he could easily become the team’s best defender and help set the tone for the rest of the team. Whoever becomes the new Laker coach will likely depend on Ariza and guide the defense if he were to return. Throughout the season, the Lakers struggled on the defensive end and
2013-14 Salary: $7,727,280
When Ariza last hit free agency, the Lakers believed he was worth the mid-level exception. His agent felt otherwise and when the Lakers went with Metta World Peace instead, Ariza got himself a nice contract with Houston. After stints with New Orleans and Washington, Ariza finally showed his value.
At this point of his career, Ariza will unlikely see a significant raise while getting a long term deal at the same time. He’s going to have to sacrifice one for the other.
Most offers sent his way will likely be a two or three year deal with a base salary of $7 million. If the Lakers are to make an offer to Ariza, a two year deal would be ideal in order to keep around for the remainder of Kobe Bryant’s contract.
Landing With Lakers Odds: 12 to 1
Ariza is not a stranger to Laker fans who remember him being a key contributor during the 2009 title run. After five years of improving his game, it is not out of the question that Ariza might look for a return to the Lakers.
The Wizards likely wouldn’t want to see Ariza leave especially after his strong performance during the playoffs. Considering Gortat is also an unrestricted free agent, it is conceivable that the Wizards would rather keep the big man. Martell Webster and Otto Porter are already on the Wizards roster with $10 million already committed to the pair of small forwards.
Any team trying to make a playoff push should definitely go after Ariza in July. He will have a number of offers with the Lakers possibly showing interest in bringing him back to Los Angeles.
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