The Trevor Ariza trade: How it looks one year later
Ariza, who was just 22 years old, was coming off a very impressive 2006-'07 season, with the Magic and then-coach Brian Hill. He averaged 8.9 points per game on 53.9% field goal shooting and 4.4 rebounds in just over 22 minutes a game. We all thought he was a cornerstone for the future of the Magic because of his tremendous athleticism and potential.
However, in the 2007-'08 season under new coach Stan Van Gundy, Ariza's playing time and numbers dropped dramatically. He just could not crack the regular rotation (supposedly because of his weak outside shooting), and was averaging only 3.3 ppg and 2.2 rebounds in just over 10 minutes a game before the trade was made.
The Magic definitely got the better of the trade for last season. Ariza played in 24 games for the Lakers, averaging 6.5 ppg and 3.5 rebounds, before getting hurt in January and missing the rest of the season. Mo Evans was inserted as the starting shooting guard for the Magic shortly after the trade, and was very steady throughout the season, averaging 9.3 ppg on 48.9% FG shooting and 39.6% three point shooting, scoring in double figures 35 games with a high of 27 points.
While it took Van Gundy several games to play Brian Cook, when he finally did, Cook proved to be a spark off the bench in several games with his three point shooting, as he scored in double figures in nine games with a high of 18 points. Overall, with the Magic, Cook averaged 5.0 ppg on 39.1 three point shooting last season before breaking his hand in April and missing the playoffs.
For this year though, and for the future, there's no question the Lakers got the better of the trade. The Magic elected not to re-sign Evans, who is now with Atlanta. Cook came into training camp not in the kind of shape Van Gundy wanted him in, and has been in the doghouse, appearing in just two games in mop-up time of blowouts.
Meanwhile, Ariza, who is now healthy, has found a place in the regular rotation with the Lakers, and is thriving under Phil Jackson. He is averaging 8.9 ppg, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.0 steals in 23 minutes a game. He is shooting 46.8% from the field and 42.9% from three point range. He never had three point range with the Magic, but has it now with the Lakers. Kobe Bryant recently said what a huge boost it gives the Lakers when Ariza is on the floor because of the energy and hustle he provides on both offense and defense.
With Ariza just 23 years old, and developing all his athleticism and potential with the Lakers, this could prove to be Magic GM Otis Smith's worst trade.
In partial defense of Smith, he signed free agent Mickael Pietrus from Golden State to replace Evans at SG, and Pietrus has proven to be an excellent free agent signing so far.
It remains to be seen what Otis could get for Brian Cook, who is on the trading block. It would be for the benefit of the Magic if they could play Cook more, to showcase him for other teams.