Although the Los Angeles Lakers stocked up on shooters during NBA free agency, their defensive depth took a hit after parting ways with players like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Alex Caruso.
However, the Lakers were able to recover a bit after they agreed to terms with Trevor Ariza on a one-year deal. Ariza remains a solid defender who can check small forwards and power forwards in a pinch despite his age. His defensive versatility will be key for a Los Angeles squad that looks susceptible to bigger scoring wings.
The veteran could have been used on several contenders but decided to come back home after some urging from Russell Westbrook. Ariza acknowledged it was nice to feel wanted after these many years in the league.
“It feels good, to be honest with you,” Ariza said. “There’s been a lot of doubt throughout my whole career, and I think the biggest part about it is, I really don’t care about the doubt. I just stay locked into my thing, stay locked into what I do and focus on myself and my family and the people around me that are rooting for me.
“To have a support system that wants to see me continue, I think that’s the only thing that matters to me.”
As far as his role is concerned, Ariza does not care about it so long as he is helping the team win games.
“Nah, to be honest with you, I don’t think it matters for anybody that’s here because again, when you’re a part of or when you’re trying to win a championship, the only thing that matters is the success of the team,” Ariza explained. “So when the success of the team is the first thing you think about, whatever role you have on it doesn’t even matter as long as you have a role and the idea is for everybody to make each other better every day and to cheer for your teammate’s success. I think that’s the only thing that’s important.”
That selfless attitude seems to be shared across the roster as every player has talked about doing what they need to do to win a championship. Ariza will be a valued presence on the court but will also be leaned on in the locker room.
Trevor Ariza opens up about NBA journey
Ariza revealed he was choosing between the Miami Heat and Lakers in free agency but ultimately decided to return to the franchise he won his first ring with. The forward also opened up about his long NBA journey and what it is like to come back to his native Los Angeles.