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Lakers Rumors: LA 'Poking Around' for Role Players; Trevor Ariza Linked

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 16, 2021

Portland Trail Blazers forward Trevor Ariza (8) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Lakers own the NBA's second-best record (21-7), but general manager Rob Pelinka may not remain complacent in terms of strengthening the roster midseason.  

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported on his podcast (via Harrison Faigen of Silver Screen & Roll) the Lakers have been "poking around the league a little bit to see if some role players may become available elsewhere."

Wojnarowski cited Trevor Ariza as one veteran who could be on Los Angeles' radar. The Athletic's Shams Charania reported in December the Lakers were "monitoring" Ariza to see if the Oklahoma City Thunder would buy out his contract.

Ariza moved around a lot this past offseason, first getting traded from the Portland Trail Blazers to the Houston Rockets. Then he went from Houston to the Detroit Pistons before Detroit sent him to the Thunder as part of a three-team deal.

The 35-year-old has yet to play for Oklahoma City, which is instead focusing on a long-term rebuild. It's only a matter of time before he's gone. 

Ariza counts for $12.8 million against the salary cap, so matching that figure would be difficult for Los Angeles. He may choose to stay with the Thunder and earn his full payout, but leaving some money on the table would allow him to sign with a title contender.

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The 2008-09 champion is a career 35.2 percent three-point shooter, and he finished a respectable 22nd in ESPN's defensive real plus-minus (plus-0.71) among small forwards in 2019-20.

In general, depth isn't a glaring issue for the Lakers, though Wojnarowski reported Anthony Davis will be out for at least two to three weeks with a calf strain. Teams in Los Angeles' position can never have too many options off the bench, either.

Bringing Ariza or another wing aboard could help ease some of the pressure on LeBron James, who has yet to miss a game and is still averaging nearly 35 minutes per night.

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