The Knicks drafted Trevor Ariza in the second round in the 2004 NBA Draft. He spent just one season at UCLA. Ariza averaged 11.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game as a Freshman. His quickness and athletiscm quickly made him one of the best perimeter defenders in the Pac-10. At 19 years old he played 80 games in his rookie season averaging 5.9 points in 17 minutes per game. However, in his second season he lost playing time to rookie David Lee and head coach Larry Brownwanted to acquire Steve Francis. Ariza was traded along with Penny Hardawayto the Orlando Magic for Francis. There has been speculation that if Ariza was never dealt then Renaldo Balkman would have not been drafted in 2006. Also spending $30 million to sign Jared Jeffries, may not of happened either if Ariza was allowed to blossum.
By landing Francis it made the Knicks backcourt (Stephon Marbury) the highest-paid in the NBA. Francis was owed $49 million for the next three seasons. The 29-year old had career averages of 20.1 points, 6.4 assists, and six rebounds per game before coming to New York. However, his tenure with the Knicks was plagued by injuries and inconsistency. He averaged just 11 points in 68 games and was traded along with Channing Frye to the Portland Trailblazers for Zach Randolph.
Ariza has flourished for the Los Angeles Lakers this season. He played in every regular season game and finished ninth in the league in steals (1.67). He has started all 17 postseason games for the Lakers this postseason and is averaging 11.1 points and shooting 48% from three. The 6’8″ forward will be turning 24-years old in June while Steve Francis played his last game for the Houston Rockets on December 15th, 2007.
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