According to a report by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Lakers re-engaged the Phoenix Suns in Ariza trade talks after the breakdown of a proposed three-team trade including the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night. However, the Suns instead chose to deal Ariza directly to the Washington Wizards, taking Kelly Oubre Jr. and Austin Rivers in return.
Ariza, who was a part of the Lakers' 2009 championship team, was one of a handful of players who fit the team's desire to add a veteran in the final year of his contract so as to preserve cap space for the summer of 2019.
"They're not going to give away picks and their top young players in some deal that makes them incrementally better this season," Wojnarowski said during Saturday's Woj & Lowe show, "because they've got to save all those assets for a big trade this summer -- either pre- or post-free agency. That's why they've looked at players like Trevor Ariza, guys who are on one-year deals who don't have money going forward."
While Ariza was an ideal option, he's not the only potential contributor who fits the Lakers' needs. Where else might they turn before the Feb. 7 trade deadline? Let's take a look at some options.
Potential Lakers trade options
Adding Ariza would have given the Lakers a defensive upgrade at the combo forward spot, a weakness for their current roster. While Josh Hart is a promising defender and strong for his size, at 6-foot-5 he's on the small side to defend elite combo forwards like Kevin Durant. And though Brandon Ingram has the length to contend with such opponents, he's limited in terms of strength.
In terms of potential trade pickups, Carroll is probably the next-best thing to Ariza in this regard, at 6-8, 215 pounds. The first problem is, Carroll hasn't played well since missing the season's first 11 games following surgery on his right ankle. Carroll has made just 40 percent of his 2-pointers and 30 percent of his 3-pointers after hitting them at 46 percent and 37 percent marks, respectively, during his first season in Brooklyn.
If Carroll rebounds enough to make sense for the Lakers, the second problem is the Nets might just want to keep him. Having won five games in a row, Brooklyn is now just two games back of the Orlando Magic for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and has a better point differential (minus-0.9 points per game) than Orlando (minus-2.7). So the Nets might prefer chasing a playoff spot to trading veterans.
San Antonio is hanging around the Western Conference playoff picture, a half-game back of the eighth seed. But despite a better point differential than the Nets, the Spurs' plus-0.1 mark spells trouble in the deeper West. It ranks 10th overall thus far, suggesting San Antonio could slide as the schedule gets more difficult. Per ESPN's Basketball Power Index, the Spurs have played the league's 18th-hardest slate of games thus far, while their remaining schedule ranks fifth hardest.
If San Antonio looks to trade Gay, there should be plenty of suitors for the combo forward enjoying the most efficient season of his career at age 32. Gay is shooting career-high marks on both 3-pointers (46 percent, which will be difficult to sustain for the 35 percent career shooter) and 2-pointers (55 percent), taking advantage of slower defenders while playing frequently as a power forward. ( Per Cleaning the Glass, 75 percent of Gay's minutes have come as a 4.) Though not quite the defender Ariza and Carroll are, Gay would give the Lakers more scoring punch in that spot.
With the Heat getting healthier on the wing, Ellington has moved back to the fringes of the team's rotation, playing just 22 minutes over the past four games since returning from a two-game absence for personal reasons. The 6-5 Ellington wouldn't upgrade the Lakers defensively but would immediately become the team's best floor spacer as a 38 percent career 3-point shooter on high volume, including more than 10 3-point attempts per 36 minutes the past two seasons.
Dealing Ellington for Michael Beasley and Ivica Zubac (a minimum-salary player would be necessary to match salary) would save Miami about $2 million in luxury taxes, though Ellington would have to approve any trade. Like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Ellington signed a one-year deal with his former team, meaning agreeing to a deal would force him to give up Bird rights next summer.
Quietly, Holiday has been a rock of stability amid Chicago's foibles this season, attempting a career-high 7.7 3-pointers per 36 minutes and making them at a 38 percent clip. While Holiday's slighter frame will make it difficult for him to contend with combo forwards, he's a quality defender at either wing spot who would slide seamlessly into the Lakers' rotation.
At $4.4 million, Holiday could be acquired using Beasley as matching salary, leaving the Lakers the flexibility to do something else with the expiring $12 million contract of Caldwell-Pope.
Inevitably, Hood's name will come up before the deadline after he took a one-year qualifying offer from the Cavaliers as a restricted free agent last summer. (Doing so means Hood, too, must consent to a trade and would forfeit Bird rights.)
At $3.5 million, Hood could also be acquired straight up for Beasley. After flopping in Cleveland after last season's deadline deal, Hood has bounced back this season, making 38 percent of his 3s and 47 percent of his 2s. However, because he shoots too many long 2s and rarely gets to the free throw line, Hood has never scored with above-average efficiency.
Additionally, Hood's playoff track record is a concern. Over two postseason runs and 28 games, he's posted a dismal .450 true shooting percentage.
The Lakers' other option
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope | L.A. Lakers
At some point, it's unclear that making a move for a wing would actually help the Lakers much, particularly if it means giving up Caldwell-Pope. After making just 22 percent of his 3s in October, Caldwell-Pope has predictably seen his shooting percentages drift back toward his career marks, as he has hit 43 percent of his 44 attempts so far in December. That has pushed his true shooting percentage to a career-high 57.1 percent.
Because Caldwell-Pope is also too small at 6-5 to handle the kind of troublesome defensive matchups against combo forwards I've mentioned, I get the desire to move him for a player who can fill that need in the postseason. However, replacing Caldwell-Pope with the likes of Holiday or Hood strikes me as a lateral move at best and potentially even a downgrade. So the best option for the Lakers might already be on the roster.