Contractual negotiations are not all about the final number published by columnists on Yahoo! Sports and ESPN. In fact, athletes often sign with teams that do not make the largest offer. For some players, though, an extra million means a lot and they will do whatever it takes to get that extra coin, even if it means leaving your hometown, even if it means leaving a team that could repeat as champions of the league. But what if that team based in your hometown that has the impressive winning record is willing to pay the same amount of money as every other team? Do you press your luck? Do you insult the front office in the process?
Trevor Ariza is a great defender. He showed his skill throughout the 2009 NBA Playoffs. I can distinctly remember many pivotal steals that helped the Lakers bring a championship back to L.A. Unfortunately for Ariza, he and his agent refused a deal in the offseason from the Lakers and Ariza is now stuck in Houston, receiving roughly the same amount he would have made in a new deal with Los Angeles. On the flip side, Artest gets out of Houston, which has many problems to overcome. Will Yao Ming ever play again? When is the last time Tracy McGrady had an impact outside of cheering on the bench? These are now concerns for Ariza and his agent, David Lee, who once felt he had the strong hand in negotiations with the Lakers.
Los Angeles is abuzz over Kobe + Artest. Kobe has a buddy in Artest, who can give him more of a break on defense. Additionally, Kobe no longer has to worry about Artest covering him with his smothering defense in any pivotal games. Los Angeles may miss Ariza, but probably no where near the amount that Ariza will miss L.A.
Maybe Ariza will be happy in his new role with the Rockets. He should receive more playing time and will be relied on much more than he was with the Lakers. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports has a different take:
He’s a good player, but he’ll never be a star elsewhere. He’ll just be another player on another team.
Then again, players move around all the time in the NBA. If Ariza is not happy in Houston in a year or two, I am sure we will hear trade rumors involving the Suns or Warriors (for some reason I feel as though I always hear those two teams come up in trade rumors). Or he could drop his verbal commitment to the rockets and sign with the Cavaliers…at least Mo Williams thinks that is what Ariza once thought until he said this.