NBA Los Angeles Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers Must Make Trevor Ariza Offseason Priority

Los Angeles Lakers Free Agents

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Current Washington Wizards‘ small forward, Trevor Ariza, originally made a name for himself as a part of the Los Angeles Lakers‘ championship team in 2009. Ariza was traded to Los Angeles in 2007 with little expectations, but managed to impress the league by playing stellar defense and knocking down a few threes when necessary.

Ariza came up huge in the Lakers’ path to the NBA Finals in 2009, nailing numerous momentum swinging three pointers, in addition to causing multiple important turnovers. His numbers truly reflect how impactful his play was averaging 11 points and 1.6 steals per game on 49.7% shooting and 47.6% from down town.

Unfortunately for Los Angeles, this outstanding play resulted in the Houston Rockets offering Ariza a massive 5 year/$33 million contract, which the Lakers refused to match. Instead, Los Angeles decided to offer Metta World Peace a just about identical contract, as he was at the time the much better player. This move did pay off though, as the Lakers went on to their second championship in a row with World Peace as a key contributor.

Once leaving Los Angeles, Ariza really struggled to emulate his play with the Lakers, mainly because he brought much higher expectations upon himself signing the hefty contract. Failing to impress resulted in Ariza being bounced around the league a bit until finally finding a home with the Washington Wizards. Ariza has been electrifying in Washington as he has willed the team to victory on a multitude of occasions, including several monster scoring outbursts. His most recent incredible performance came against the Chicago Bulls today, dropping 30 points in a game which just about secured the first round series victory.

Such solid play has most definitely caught the attention of teams around the league that have a deficiency at the small forward spot. One team that will need to fill the small forward position is in fact the Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe Bryant will be returning next season, so a shot happy player is the type of player the team must avoid. Ariza not only fits the Lakers’ need, but would be the perfect signing this offseason.

Defense has been a glaring issue since the hiring of Coach Mike D’Antoni, and with speculation that he will return for the third year of his contract, defensive personnel must be brought in immediately. Luol Deng has also been a name associated with the Lakers, but he may be out of the team’s price range. Ariza he is familiar with Bryant and knows what it is like to play in Los Angeles, so it is only a matter of trying to yank him away from Washington. Luckily, Ariza will become an unrestricted free agent, meaning he has the right to sign with any team he desires.

Furthermore, General Manager Mitch Kupchak has publicly stated he would rather be patient for the 2015 free agency class, and rightfully so. Therefore, making a somewhat under-the-radar move like this would begin the process of building a championship contender. Championships cannot be won without a supporting cast. As a result signing Ariza must be the Lakers’ priority moving into this offseason.

Joseph Crevier covers the Los Angeles Lakers for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter, @RealJoeCrev, and Facebook or add him to your network on Google.