Why Make the Deal?
Trevor Ariza brings a defensive presence at the three spot that no one currently on the Lakers roster can match. While Lamar Odom creates a mismatch on the offensive end for opposing teams, he sometimes has trouble guarding the quicker small forwards in the league, an area were Luke Walton also struggles.
The deal also clears up a glut at a couple positons for the Lakers.
“We thought we had some duplication on the roster—particularly at that Power Forward position between Vladi Radmanovic and Brian Cook,” General Manager Mitch Kupchak said. “I also thought that we had duplication in the backcourt and although Maurice was a backup player I thought he might not get the minutes he felt he needed.”
The deal takes the Lakers roster number down to 14 and will give Sasha Vujacic, Javaris Crittenton, and the Lakers’ other backcourt players more of an opportunity to play.
Kupchak added, “Trevor is very young, but it is his fourth year in the league. We think there is a lot of upside there as well.”
Ariza is local to Los Angeles having played his high school ball at Westchester High School and collegiately at UCLA. He also maintains a residence in LA and is looking forward to returning to the area.
“Trevor was ecstatic. His ties are deep to Los Angeles. He was ecstatic about the possibility of getting on this squad immediately and making a contribution. I’m sure he’s looking at it as a big opportunity to get to a place that he’s very familiar with.”
Getting Trevor Activated
The Magic are currently in San Antonio to play the Spurs on Wednesday night. Ariza will be checked out by doctors in the San Antonio area and, if cleared, will catch an early morning plane to Milwaukee on Wednesday. That flight would allow him to join the rest of the Lakers around noon time.
Passing the physical does not guarantee that he will be active for tomorrow night’s game against the Bucks though. Per NBA rules all parties must pass their physicals before the deal can be consummated. If Cook and Evans are both cleared by tomorrow afternoon then all three players could be eligible to play in Wednesday night’s contests.
Making the Money Work
The financial details of the deal were actually quite complicated.
Brian Cook is in the first year of a contact extension and is classified as a “Base Year Compensation” player (click here to find out what that exactly means, but basically Cook’s trade value was 50% of the $3.5 million he was set to receive this season). The Magic could make the deal based on his incoming value of $3.5 million being within 125% of Ariza’s contract, but the Lakers couldn’t make the deal straight up because Cook’s “Base Year Value” wasn’t within the 125%.
To make the money matchup the Lakers included Maurice Evans’ contact and were matched by the $2.6 million trade exception the Magic gained from Tony Battie’s injury. That trade exception was due to expire on December 11th of this year.
Confused yet? I am.
That’s basically it.
Split with Evans & Cook Amicable
Maurice Evans has only been in LA for one season, but Brian Cook has deep ties to the area. The Lakers are the only team Brian has played for, spending four years with the organization, and has become close to many of his teammates, specifically fellow 2003 draftee Luke Walton. According to Kupchak both handled the news as professionals.
“Sometimes you try to get a hold of a guy that you traded and they don’t want to take your call—you have to talk to the representative. You want closure so you try to get to the player, but you never do.”
“I reached Maurice on first ring and we had a nice talk. He was very thankful of the opportunity.”
“I left a message for Brian Cook and Brian called me back within ten minutes. We have a very good rapport. He was more melancholy about the situation because he came in with Luke and kind of grew up a little bit with some of the younger players on this team. But at the end of the conversation we both talked about the fact that he probably wasn’t going to get the time that he wanted to get here. He is going to a team that is now 10-2.”
“Orlando wanted two veteran players. That was important to them—they’re so young. They felt that they needed to add a couple of veteran players.”