Leading up to Dec. 15, when players who signed a new contract this past offseason became officially eligible to be traded, it appeared Trevor Ariza was going to be headed to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Having gone to high school and college in Los Angeles, Ariza reportedly informed the Phoenix Suns of his preference for a second stint with the Lakers. However, owner Robert Sarver refused to trade him there.
As a three-team trade initially failed due to confusion on whether Dillon Brooks and MarShon Brooks was in the deal, the Suns eventually traded Ariza to the Washington Wizards for Austin Rivers and Kelly Oubre.
The Suns were willing to dance with the Lakers, but only on their terms. After the first Ariza trade fell apart, the Lakers hopped back in by offering Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and a future second-round pick, league sources say. The Suns demanded a young player instead of the pick. That player is believed to be Josh Hart. The Lakers obviously refused; Hart is 10 years younger and has been better than Ariza this season.
There have been multiple reports about the Lakers unwilling to include a member of their young core, but it was unclear which player the Suns asked for. While much of the attention has been on Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart has been the most consistent out of the young core.
As the Lakers are 18-12 and fourth in the Western Conference, they will be looking to improve their roster in hopes of making a deep playoff run in Year 1 with LeBron James and the young core. Terrence Ross and Wayne Ellington — who both have one-year remaining on their deals — have also been linked to Los Angeles.