Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting the Lakers are in discussions to acquire Trevor Ariza from the Phoenix Suns:
The Los Angeles Lakers are engaged in talks trying to acquire Phoenix Suns forward Trevor Ariza, league sources told ESPN.
The teams have been working to reach an agreement with a third team that would take on Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as part of a potentially larger deal, league sources said.
Let me say this up front: trade discussions happen all the time and go unreported. One of the key jobs of an NBA general manager is to consistently make back channel inquiries to gauge player value (both your own and other teams’) in order to explore ways to improve your roster. It’s naive to think the Lakers aren’t doing this already (and likely with every player not named LeBron).
With that out of the way, the mechanics of this rumored deal are somewhat complicated due to the collective bargaining agreement and the rules which govern trades.
- Because both Ariza and KCP were signed as free agents this past summer, neither can be traded until December 15th.
- Because KCP would lose his Bird Rights in any trade this season, he has veto rights over any trade that he would be included in. Now, it’s pretty rare a player invokes this veto for the simple reason that if a team is willing to trade him, the likelihood he’s re-signed by the team that wants to trade him is low and, thus, his Bird Rights really don’t matter. That said, KCP has this right so it cannot be ignored.
- As Woj Reports, this would likely be a 3 team deal which makes completing a trade harder in general.
With all these caveats out of the way, the Lakers targeting Ariza (or a player of his ilk) should not surprise anyone. Ariza can be a high level role player who offers a prototypical 3-and-D game. He can guard the other team’s best offensive player and has enough size to guard wings who are more physically imposing than your standard SG/SF type.
All you have to do is look at the success DeMar DeRozan has had vs. the Lakers (sans Brandon Ingram who’s played all of 6 minutes vs. them this year) as a prime example. And this is to say nothing of guys like Kevin Durant or Klay Thompson.
Ariza also has high-level playoff experience, winning a title with the Lakers in 2009 and contributing majorly for the Rockets in their run to the Western Conference Finals last season. A key theme of the Lakers off-season acquisitions has been getting players who have this type of profile — Rondo, JaVale, and Chandler have won titles + Lance has deep playoff experience. Ariza fits this mold too and I’ve no doubt this matters greatly to Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka.
Of course, wanting Ariza does not mean the Lakers will get him. Fans can point at Suns’ GM James Jones being LeBron’s friend all they want, that alone isn’t going to get a deal done. Woj reports that the Suns, who are shallow at point guard, want a playmaker back in any deal to go along with draft compensation. That’s a steep price for Ariza and finding that right mix to appease the Suns may prove to be too difficult.