Report: Clippers Interested in Trevor Ariza

Jared Wickerham

According to ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne, the Clippers are one of a few teams with interest in free agent small forward Trevor Ariza.

In an article about Pau Gasol's potential future with the Lakers, ESPN's Ramona Shelburne also mentions the Clippers and Trevor Ariza:

The Washington Post reported last month that the Wizards would like to re-sign him.

The Rockets, Mavericks, Pistons, Clippers and Suns are all expected to pursue Ariza once free agency opens on July 1, according to sources.

Ariza would become the Clippers' starting small forward, coming off one of his better years playing alongside John Wall for the Washington Wizards.  Ariza's recently expired deal was a 5-year contract worth about $34 million that he signed with the Houston Rockets in 2009.  Originally drafted in the second round by New York in 2004, Ariza has played for the Knicks, Magic, Lakers, Rockets, Pelicans, and Wizards in his 10 year career.

Looking at last season's stats, Ariza would appear to be a perfect candidate for the Clippers.  He averaged 14.4 points and 6.2 rebounds for the Wizards last year, shooting over 40% from deep.  He's also long been considered a good wing defender, something that the Clippers sorely need.  However, throughout his career, Ariza's ability to be a 3-and-D guy has been inconsistent.  Before arriving in Washington in 2012, he never made more than a third of his threes in a season, and during his expiring 5-year deal, he has only made more than 42% of his field goals once: last season.

Ariza turns 29 on Monday, when free agency begins, but due to his relative lack of miles I don't think his age is much of a concern.  He missed a lot of games early in his career and didn't see heavy minutes when he did play for the most part.  The real concern is with Ariza's shot and production, which seems likely to drop when he signs a new contract, just as it did last time.  It's worth noting, at least, that Houston expected Ariza to go from a role player to a featured shot creator when they signed him.  The Clippers would keep Ariza's role relatively similar to what it was in Washington: focus on defense, hit threes, and fill lanes in transition.

Overall, I like Ariza as a target for the Clippers, but I'm nervous about overpaying him.  If he's signed to a mid-level deal, he would be a good addition for the $5M price tag.  If the Clippers seek to pay him more, and attempt to sign-and-trade for him, the salary becomes riskier and riskier the higher you get.  In the $8M range for three years, he's probably overpaid, but it might be worth it (like how Caron Butler was overpaid to fill a need on a short-term deal).  Once you get into the $10M range, I think any team will regret signing him.

He's a good option and one of very few available small forwards who fit the Clippers' criteria, but I'm wary of overpaying him.  Ryan Gomes and Jared Dudley make me wary of any seemingly solid SF free agents.  We'll see what happens once free agency begins and teams start throwing out offers.

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