Just one year after signing a five-year contract with the Houston Rockets, Trevor Ariza’s time in the Lone Star State has come to an end.
Ariza was dealt away to the New Orleans Hornets in a four-team, five-player NBA trade on Wednesday afternoon—resulting in the New Jersey Nets sending guard Courtney Lee to the Rockets in the exchange.
The move, considered by most to be a financial decision, will save Houston roughly $10 million next season (before the Ariza trade, the Rockets were on the verge of entering the upcoming season nearly $8 million over the cap in luxury taxes).
So from that point of view, the trade makes sense; but in many ways, it’s baffling.
Yes, I know that Lee has been on the Rockets radar for over two seasons now. But he also had a mere mediocre season with the Nets last year.
Ariza, on the other hand, is and was a major leader on the hardwood for Houston last year—especially towards the conclusion of the 2009-10 regular season—and I truly believe he’ll be missed.
Does that mean that Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has made a poor decision by dumping Ariza to save money and move forward with the remaining team intact? Not by any means.
However, I’m definitely hesitant about this trade as the 2010-11 season looms.
Lee may be a great addition to the core players already signed to long-term contracts with the team, but only time will tell in that regard.
Ariza seemed to mesh well with the likes of Aaron Brooks, Kevin Martin, and Shane Battier (just to name a few), and it has yet to be seen how Lee will respond in terms of team chemistry.
Once again, I’m not saying Morey made the wrong decision by sending Ariza packing to the Hornets.
What I am saying, though, is I really liked the Rockets lineup and bench heading into the upcoming season—with Ariza being a big part of that puzzle—and now I’m absolutely uncertain heading into the first game, which tips off against the Los Angeles Lakers on Oct. 26 at Staples Center.
But I do have faith in the moves Morey makes, and I’m not about to begin questioning his decision until I at least get an opportunity to see how Lee works as a new member of the Rockets.
T-minus two and a half months and counting…
Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org