By Todd Singer @breakingbadfish on June 4, 2014
Coming off the best season of his career, Trevor Ariza will be a popular name in free agency when it begins in July. Ariza set career-highs in points and rebounds per game, as well as shooting a career high from 3-point range, all of which are sure to earn him a nice contract. Ariza could opt to stay in Washington, where the Wizards can offer him the most money, but he's been well-traveled his entire career and could end up elsewhere.
The Wizards own Ariza's Bird Rights and can offer him more years and money than any other team, which makes them the prohibitive favorite in the clubhouse. While Ariza has always had trouble converting his talent into results, he seems to have blossomed under the tutelage of Randy Wittman and could decide to re-sign with the Wizards, who appear to have a very bright future.
If the Jazz re-sign Gordon Hayward, they'll probably cross Ariza off their list, but the former is no certainty. Hayward and the Jazz couldn't come to terms last offseason and if an overzealous team lavishes him with a huge contract offer, Utah could let him walk, which would open the door for Ariza. The Jazz have a boatload of cap space and Ariza would be a solid replacement for Hayward -- not as good offensively, but much better defensively.
Could we see a reunion for Ariza with Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles? Ariza played for the Lakers from 2007 to 2009, winning a title with them before signing with Houston. The Lakers have a lot of cap space this offseason and are likely looking to use it with Bryant not getting any younger. The Lakers are sorely lacking a premier wing defender and offensive playmakers outside of Kobe, making Ariza a terrific choice to return to the Purple and Gold.
The Hornets have to be frustrated with the play of their wing players as both Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Gerald Henderson, former first-round picks, have had difficulties making their mark in the NBA. As such, the Hornets will likely be looking for upgrades at those positions this offseason, and Ariza would be just that. Charlotte has the requisite cap space to sign Ariza, and he'd make a good young team even better.
This is more of a contingency plan than anything else, but if the Cavaliers opt against taking Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker with the first pick and lose Luol Deng to free agency, they'll be in need of someone to step in and play the three. While it's difficult seeing anyone voluntarily signing in Cleveland after LeBron wouldn't even take their money, the Cavs have a lot of cap space to entice free agents and Ariza could be one of them.
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