Trevor Ariza is not a star. The 33-year-old is a long, lean shooter who can guard multiple positions. He was a key cog in the Rockets' run to the best record in the West last season and a Chris Paul hamstring away from a Finals berth. While his absence isn't the sole reason Houston has struggled in the first quarter of this season, it's at least part of that decline. Perhaps that's why NBA sources tell ESPN that the Lakers are looking to add Ariza.
League sources also informed ESPN the teams are looking to get a third team involved to include Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in a larger package. The Suns, meanwhile, optimistically thinking in the offseason Ariza could help their youngsters mature into a playoff team, are looking to add a play-making guard—something they haven't really had since Steve Nash—and draft picks in exchange for Ariza. Both teams are engaged in negotiating multiple trade scenarios, and ESPN reports they've made progress in securing a third team to help make the deal happen but aren't anywhere near an actual agreement.
Many thought Ariza would re-sign with the Rockets this past summer after they came so close to knocking off the Warriors in the Western Conference finals. But, there was no way Rockets GM Daryl Morey was going to top the $15 million Phoenix offered Ariza to head to the desert. So far, the awful start by Phoenix is why Ariza tops most trade lists ahead of the Feb. 7 trade deadline. But that's not the only deadline holding a trade back.
Any possible exchange will have to wait until Saturday when summer free agents, like Ariza, are finally eligible to be traded this season.
Ariza would provide two things the Lakers could use—defense and shooting—as they try and navigate a season that's turned into the LeBron show despite preseason talk of him sharing the play-making duties. While Trevor's shooting a subpar 34.8 percent from 3 so far this year, he's right around league average for his career and height—Ariza is 6-foot-8—can't be learned. Tyson Chandler has solidified LA's rim protection, and Ariza would likely do the same for a perimeter defense that's usually been a sieve for opponents.