One of the first signings the Los Angeles Lakers made last offseason was to bring back veteran wing Trevor Ariza, who helped the Lakers win a championship back in 2009. Ariza has long been the ideal 3-and-D wing with the size to guard multiple positions and a more than reliable shooter on offense.
Unfortunately for Ariza, his return to the Lakers got off to a rough start due to injury and was never quite able to get on track once he returned.
Just before the season began, Ariza suffered an ankle issue and had to undergo a procedure, keeping him out until December and missing the first 30 games of the season. Head coach Frank Vogel admitted that Ariza was set to play an important role within the Lakers’ rotation and losing him threw a wrench into those plans.
Once Ariza returned to the Lakers’ lineup, he was simply never able to consistently provide that excellent two-way play the team had hoped. There were certainly flashes and good games here and there, but Ariza’s struggles saw him in and out of the rotation throughout the season.
Ariza averaged just 4.0 points and 3.4 rebounds per game in 24 appearances for the Lakers this season, shooting just 33.3% from the field and 27% from 3-point range. The points and field goal percentage were both career-lows for Ariza while the 3-point percentage was his worst since his second season way back in 2006.
To his credit, Ariza maintained a positive outlook throughout the season, never causing any issues and always trying to help the team in any way he could. Eventually the Lakers would release Ariza just before the end of the season, opening up a roster spot so the team could give an opportunity to younger players.
Ariza’s best shooting performance came in just his second game back as he was perfect from the field hitting all four of his shots including three 3-pointers for 12 points and five rebounds, though it came in a blowout loss to the Phoenix Suns.
His best all-around performance, however, came in February in the Lakers’ comeback victory over the New York Knicks. With Carmelo Anthony out due to injury, Ariza played a season-high 35 minutes and finished with 11 points, eight rebounds, three assists and a block.
It is unclear exactly what the future holds for Ariza, but considering he will be 37 years old when next season begins, and after 18 NBA seasons, it could very well be the end for the veteran wing. Ariza has had an excellent NBA career and won a championship so it would make sense if he decided to hang it up.
Of course, Ariza could also not want his career to end on such a note and believe that he can still contribute to a team given better health. If that is the case he will surely get consideration from a team looking for a veteran leader and potential defender to add to their roster.
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