In their quest to find a shooter and added defensive versatility, the Los Angeles Lakers reportedly began to explore a potential trade with the Phoenix Suns for Trevor Ariza. The possibility surfaced days before Ariza became eligible to be traded (Saturday, Dec. 15).
Speculation included the Lakers looking to move Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, though the Suns preferred to acquire one of Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram or Kyle Kuzma. With the Lakers unwilling to break up their young core unless trading for a superstar, the necessity for a third team became apparent.
Thus, the Houston Rockets emerged as a potential landing spot for Caldwell-Pope. The Suns were said to be seeking a point guard and/or draft picks in a deal for Ariza. They wound up agreeing to a three-team trade that includes the Memphis Grizzlies and will send Ariza to the Washington Wizards.
According to David Aldridge of The Athletic, Suns owner Robert Sarver was a factor in the Suns not working toward a trade with the Lakers:
Per source, Suns owner Robert Sarver was adamant that he would not send Trevor Ariza to the Lakers, so Phoenix pivoted to other options. Wizards desperate for toughness/defensive grit, and would have had difficulty re-signing Oubre next summer.
— David Aldridge (@davidaldridgedc) December 15, 2018
It’s unclear what Sarver’s stance could be predicated on. Reasonable suggestions are the hit the Suns took when Tyson Chandler was bought out and cleared waivers in November. It was followed by speculation LeBron James phoned in a favor with close friend and Suns interim general manager James Jones.
Sarver also could have been motivated to avoid completing a trade that would directly benefit a Pacific Division foe. Beyond that, he’s dealing with criticism surrounding alleged comments over possibly moving the Suns out of Phoenix.
For Ariza, while it’s believed his preference was to be traded to the Lakers, he joins a Wizards team that he previously succeed with. He started 77 games for the team during the 2013-14 season, when the Wizards reached the second round of the playoffs.
But Ariza joins a Wizards team that’s seven games under .500, is mired on a four-game losing streak, and has dealt with internal turmoil this season.