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Trevor Ariza: Exit Interview

June 19, 2009 | 10:38 pm

With the 2009 NBA title signed, sealed, and delivered, Lakers fans are looking ahead to next season.  Parades, after all, are fun.  To repeat, will likely require the return of their big free agents, starting with Trevor Ariza.  Any questions as to Ariza's value were certainly answered in the playoffs (the Nuggets and Magic will certainly vouch for him), and while it's far too early to guess how the market will play out, if he isn't in purple and gold next October, it won't be for lack of interest from the home team. 

Asked Tuesday at his exit interview in El Segundo if Phil Jackson and Mitch Kupchak expressed interest in bringing him back, Ariza smiled.  "I definitely felt loved in there," he said.  "I felt a lot of love."

One of the more entertaining parts of Ariza's presser came when he spoke about his work in the playoffs. I asked him what it was like to consistently be dared by teams to beat them... and to come through more often than not. It took Ariza a while to come up with a tactful way to express himself.   He finally settled on a boilerplate.  "It feels good. They left me open, we got the trophy. We're all getting rings.  That's pretty much it." Was there ever a point where he ever grew a little offended at the lack of defensive attention?

"Nope," he said, again with a smile.  "They left me open to help my team out.

Here, Ariza talks about what he'd like to improve this summer ("my guard skills"), and how his injury last year taught him patience. More on what's important to him as a free agent, as well. "The most important thing for me is to feel like I'm part of something. That's all I've thought about throughout the year, and throughout this process I'm going to take into consideration other things, but that's probably the most important thing."

Finally, a little talk of Derek Fisher and Westchester High.