Trevor Ariza interview on 570 KLAC
Former Laker/now Rocket Trevor Ariza recently appeared on the 570 KLAC's Myers & Hartman Show in Los Angeles. TA was asked various questions about the ultimately failed negotiations that resulted in a Houston relocation. Not many specifics revealed, but that's what actually made the interview noteworthy. Here's what I found most interesting:
- How largely uninformed Ariza appeared while trying to relay what happened between the Lakers and his agent, David Lee. His explanations were very unspecific and included a lot of sentiments like "I'm not really sure" and "whatever the situation was." I found that pretty odd. Perhaps Trevor wanted to tread lightly and avoid painting a negative picture of the Lakers, Lee or himself. I also know from experience that he's much more comfortable off the record than on it.
Or, as I suspect, Ariza's retelling of the story was filled with blanks because he was informed of his situation entirely through Lee, as opposed to Lee and the Lakers. Beyond never actually being in a room with any Laker brass, Trevor gave no indication of having spoken directly with Mitch Kupchak at any point. Thus, Lee was the one keeping him in the loop and attempting to make the exact opposite route of Trevor's first choice sound palatable and/or necessary.
- Ariza didn't sound thrilled about leaving the Lakers. As he acknowledged, "what kid from L.A. would want to leave L.A.?" TA also lamented having "no control over that."
- When asked about Lee's handling of his business, Ariza expressed more loyalty than praise for a job well done. He also acknowledged that the Lakers don't particularly like Lee, unless I misinterpreted the following comment: "If I was to stay there, (the Lakers) would still feel the same way about him."
Those "no love lost" sentiments reinforce my initial thoughts on the matter (which felt even more reasonable in light of the report from Hoopsworld's Eric Pincus). Lee postured and played hardball well before the approach was merited, and the Lakers refused to bite. From there, Lee looked to gain leverage through meetings with other teams and the Lakers, knowing Ron Artest was available and interested, decided to cut bait and to the chase. Without question, I was surprised events unfolded so quickly, but in retrospect, it makes sense. Lee's jabbering to the media with July 1st barely in the books felt unusually over the top. It also signaled a hassle in the works.
With all due respect to Ariza, a guy I like as a player and a person, he isn't worth that much drama to secure, especially if the Team Ariza numbers floated are so far out of line with what the Lakers were offering.
In any event, I hope things work out for Trevor in Houston (except, of course, in games against the Lakers). I also think he'd be wise to cut ties with Lee. Between Ariza and Andrew Bynum last season, it's pretty clear Lee is a pain to work with. That would be fine if he had a client roster big enough that franchises are forced to kiss up. But when your agent's third biggest client is apparently Hassan Adams, it's safe to assume he doesn't "own" the NBA. More importantly, Lee botched the task of getting what Ariza wanted, which, in its own right, is kind of impressive, considering the mutual interest expressed by the Lakers and Ariza in continuing a relationship. That talks broke off so abruptly and acrimoniously feels like a sign that Trevor should look elsewhere for representation.