Blog Entry

Free Agent Buzz: Ariza commits to Rockets(UPDATE)

Posted on: July 2, 2009 5:27 pm
Edited on: July 2, 2009 11:04 pm

UPDATES THROUGHOUT with Ariza committing to Rockets

Rockets GM Daryl Morey is proving himself to be not only among the most innovative executives in the NBA, but one of the best traveled, too. Morey opened the free-agent negotiating period by meeting with Orlando restricted free agent Marcin Gortat, and on Thursday Morey traveled to Las Vegas, where he got a verbal commitment from Lakers free agent Trevor Ariza.

Ariza is said to have been less than pleased with the Lakers' efforts to re-sign him to a deal that does not exceed the mid-level exception of about $5.6 million annually. It's not clear what parameters the Rockets are working with, but Morey is not the type to overpay -- even in his semi-desperate state given the awful injury news this week about franchise center Yao Ming.

Ron Artest's decision Thursday to sign with the Lakers, first reported by, had a two-way domino effect in Ariza's favor. Artest slides into Ariza's small forward spot with the Lakers, and Ariza takes Artest's starting spot in Houston.

Although several teams were interested in Ariza -- the Cavaliers, Raptors, and Blazers among them -- multiple team executives questioned whether Ariza would get much more than the mid-level from anyone.

UPDATE: Sure enough, Ariza received only the full mid-level exception -- five years starting at about $5.6 million -- according to a person familiar with the agreement. 

Though Ariza, 24, had a breakout season from a health and 3-point shooting standpoint and preserved two wins against Denver in the Western Conference finals with his defense, it's a buyer's market in free agency this year. One of the golden rules in any environment is not to overpay based on one year of production. That's especially the case this year, although it only takes one team to set the market.

Ariza was so effective with the Lakers because he had a role, he embraced it, and he produced. That role was serving as the third or fourth scoring option on an All-Star-laden championship team. Going to a less fortified roster at a $40 million price tag would push Ariza into the role of a primary scorer with bigger expectations, which might not suit him. But his ability to defend, shoot the three, and fit in on a contending team bodes well for giving the Rockets a legit replacement for Artest. 

Here's more free-agent buzz developed from conversations with executives, agents, and others in the know:

* The Celtics dispatched a star-studded entourage to meet with Rasheed Wallace in Detroit Thursday, and a source close to the discussions said it's too early to predict the outcome. Perhaps the Celts brought their Big Three along for the trip to dampen the news that all they can offer Wallace is the mid-level exception for two or three years. That's what the Boston Globe reported the Celtics offered Wallace after the 3 1-2 hour meeting. A person familiar with the discussions said Wallace will visit several other teams. Boston also is interested in Grant Hill, who has been invited to visit the Knicks next week.

* A person involved in the Hedo Turkoglu sweepstakes said there is no news yet on Toronto's role in the recruitment of the Turkish free agent. Turkoglu met with Trail Blazers officials in Portland Thursday, and he was expected to receive an offer in the five-year, $50 million range. Toronto's front office has been deliberating whether to pre-empt the Blazers with a more lucrative offer, but that would involve renouncing the rights to three players: Shawn Marion, Carlos Delfino, and Anthony Parker. If the Turkoglu situation drags on, it could be an indication that a more creative path out of Orlando -- as in, a sign-and-trade -- is being explored. One rival executive expressed curiosity as to why Turkoglu and the Magic wouldn't want to explore such an avenue. Turkoglu would get an extra year, and Orlando would get something back.

* A Western Conference executive said word is that the Knicks aren't willing to offer Jason Kidd more than a 1-year deal at the mid-level exception, despite Mike D'Antoni's glowing comments Wednesday that the future Hall of Famer has two or three years left at a high level. Dallas appears willing to offer Kidd at least a 2-year deal; if the Knicks upped the ante to two years, the Mavs would counter with three, it is believed.

* Gortat apparently is committed to signing an offer sheet with Dallas that will far outstrip what the Rockets are willing to offer in terms of length. The Mavs should've learned their lesson from the DeSagana Diop fiasco. Dallas signed Diop to the full mid-level exception (five years) last summer and wound up giving him away to Charlotte in January for Matt Carroll and Ryan Hollins. It's great to have a billionaire owner.

* Though the idea hasn't reached the highest levels of both organizations, there could be a more creative way to get Ben Gordon from Chicago to Detroit -- one that would send Allen Iverson to the Bulls in a sign-and-trade. Though the scenario is farfetched, it would benefit Gordon (who would get an extra year and more money) and the Bulls (who would get Iverson instead of nothing to replace Gordon). A person familiar with the discussions said the Pistons would flat-out refuse to entertain such a sign-and-trade unless they could recoup significant cap savings.



Since: Dec 11, 2007
Posted on: July 6, 2009 4:50 pm

Free Agent Buzz: Ariza commits to Rockets(UPDATE)

Here's the latest on Lamar:  he likes candy.

Since: Sep 1, 2008
Posted on: July 4, 2009 4:05 pm

Free Agent Buzz: Ariza commits to Rockets(UPDATE)

Amen! Let's go get him!

Since: Apr 12, 2008
Posted on: July 3, 2009 10:56 pm

Free Agent Buzz: Ariza commits to Rockets(UPDATE)


The Hornets have spoken about being active in the free agent market this off-season.  Do you hear any rumblings, and who is out there that could help the Hornets.  Lastly, how can we get out of the poor decision to sign Morris Peterson?

Since: Jun 25, 2009
Posted on: July 3, 2009 9:10 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Oct 22, 2008
Posted on: July 3, 2009 1:52 pm

Free Agent Buzz: Ariza commits to Rockets(UPDATE)

As a Knicks fan I don't care what anyone does haha.

I want a lineup of:


Deal away: Curry, Jefferies, Robinson

Thats is ALL I want :)

Since: Dec 14, 2007
Posted on: July 3, 2009 11:18 am

Free Agent Buzz: Ariza commits to Rockets(UPDATE)

As a Knicks fan, I am interested in what they would do.  Because the Jazz owns their 1st round pick in 2010, they need to be competitive so as to not give the Jazz too valuable of a pick.  So the first question, is why would they give an aging Jason Kidd a three year offer but not even talk with Ron Artest?  Artest leaving the Rockets was a foregone conclusion, but I was suprised to see him linked to the Lakers for the mid-level exemption.  Maybe the Knicks are maneuvering to keep both David Lee and Nate Robinson?  I really do believe that the Rockets are going to regret signing Trevor Ariza, if they think he is the replacement for Artest.  Ariza can not carry the team but is an execellent piece to the puzzle.  The Rockets have alot of holes with McGrady always hurt, Yao Ming always hurt, and now Artest gone.  Good luck.

Since: May 26, 2009
Posted on: July 3, 2009 12:47 am

Free Agent Buzz: Ariza commits to Rockets(UPDATE)

You're right about one thing: there's nothing soft about Artest and Bryant. The only real concern is that Ron loses his head, which is embarrassing for a 10 year vet but it's reality. I think Kobe will be able to set him straight, sort of like Michael did Dennis Rodman. Bryant definately approves of this move, as he and Artest are friends off the court. On the court they share a similar intensity level, and it will be fascinating to watch Artest rise to the challenge of keeping up with Kobe.
Now if only they can toughen up Gasol... Laughing

Since: Apr 13, 2009
Posted on: July 3, 2009 12:10 am

Free Agent Buzz: Ariza commits to Rockets(UPDATE)

If you ask me, this just could of been a trade. Trevor Ariza to the Rockets and Artest to the Lakers. It also ruins Cleveland's Dream Team idea.

Since: Jun 18, 2008
Posted on: July 2, 2009 11:50 pm

Lamar Odom

Does anyone know the latest on Lamar??

Since: Oct 12, 2007
Posted on: July 2, 2009 11:39 pm

Free Agent Buzz: Ariza commits to Rockets(UPDATE)

Being a Lakers fan, I really hate to see Ariza go, he's really developed into his role on the team, and so young with so much promise. Enough already, he was a role player, a good one, but a role player. Will he ever grow into a Ron Artest without the attitude? Only time will tell. I think he was'nt served very well by his agent, hell, turn down a deal with your hometown NBA champion Lakers, for the same deal with a team with injury concerns(Yao, McGrady), and no realistic chance to win titles in the near future, Ariza's agent probably wont have anymore clients soon. Hell, does he know that the country is in a recession right now? Or has Ariza's agent checked his calendar for the pending free agent bonanza coming this time next year, you know, the one that every NBA front office working out ways to jockey for position to benefit in 2010. Yeah, i'm pissed that a young guy with promise will be moving on, at the fault of bad advice, but my fellow Lakers fan and haters do not take lightly Ron Artest coming to the Lakers. The move upgrades the small forward position as Artest is an All-Star type player defensively and offensively, and that word "soft" that has been used to describe the team, well, you can put that back in the dictionary.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or