The Suns, Lakers and Houston Rockets have talked about a three-team deal that would send Ariza to Los Angeles, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to the Rockets and undetermined assets to Phoenix.
Ariza and Caldwell-Pope are veterans on one-year contracts, so they're essentially shuffled deck chairs. The Suns essentially hold all the power in negotiations because they're negotiating with two playoff-contenting teams in need of help.
The Lakers are a better defensive team than advertised, sitting ninth in defensive rating. But Kuzma's still a minus on that end at the 4 spot, and adding Ariza would help fortify the 3 and 4 spots and help LeBron James rest his body.
Caldwell-Pope's been a disappointment all season but fits the Rockets' need for a floor-stretching wing who can defend at an above-average clip. Houston's been drowning on the defensive end all season and ironically miss the presence of Ariza, whom it allowed to leave for Phoenix in the offseason.
"I'm just focused right now," Caldwell-Pope told reporters of the trade rumors. "Playing here now."
Neither Caldwell-Pope nor Ariza can be traded until Dec. 15, when the NBA lifts the embargo on moving players who signed a contract during the offseason.
With a couple of more days to negotiate before that date, it's possible the sides can come to terms on a mutually beneficial deal and have things ready to go by the weekend.