The Los Angeles Lakers have their first preseason game on Friday. However, this does not mean they are completely done building their roster.
While they currently don’t have the money for another veteran minimum contract due to the hard cap, they can make moves that would free up salary cap space required for that should a player like Trevor Ariza become available.
Ariza has been on quite the journey during the offseason. He finished the 2019-20 season with the Portland Trail Blazers, but within a two-week span was traded to the Houston Rockets, Detroit Pistons and finally the Oklahoma City Thunder.
For now, he’s remaining with the Thunder, but the Lakers have been keeping a close eye on him in case he becomes available on the buyout market, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic:
The Lakers are monitoring Oklahoma City’s Trevor Ariza should he become available, sources say. As of now, both Ariza and George Hill are expected to begin the season on the Thunder roster. There is also interest in Hill’s services around the league.
Ariza is far removed from the player he was when he helped bring the Lakers their 2009 NBA championship. However, he still provides the framework of a 3-and-D wing on a team that could certainly use one more.
In addition, Ariza could also provide depth on nights where load management becomes a reality. L.A. would likely need to cut Quinn Cook from his non-guaranteed deal to make this happen, a move that will be relatively easy should it come up.
For now, Ariza remains a member of the Thunder who are entering an aggressive rebuild. With some exceptions, their roster is almost completely different from the one that pushed the Houston Rockets to seven games in the first round.
This is also not the first time the Lakers have pursued Ariza, as his name has come up in rumors for quite some time now.
Frank Vogel, LeBron James hint at load management
Given the extremely short offseason for the Lakers, it’s possible that players like James — who is entering his 18th season and is nearly 36 years old — will take some night off to preserve his body for the entire season.
“For me personally, it’s always a fine line,” James said. “Understanding with the shortened offseason — I think 71 days, the shortest offseason for any professional sport ever — so we’re very conscientious about what we do going forward.”
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