Ariza could not be moved until Dec. 15 when players who recently signed a new deal in free agency could finally be traded. However, it seemed as if talks between the Lakers and Suns did not go anywhere when the time came.
The Suns then looked ready to send the 33-year-old to the Washington Wizards in a three-team trade with the Memphis Grizzlies until the deal fell apart due to miscommunication. Ariza was ultimately moved to the Wizards with the Grizzlies cut out of the deal.
There were reports about the Suns never seriously considering trading Ariza to Los Angeles, but they were denied by the Suns interim general manager James Jones, according to Gina Mizell of The Athletic:
“No. Throughout all of this, Robert has been adamant that his focus is on what helps the Suns grow and be the best. That was inaccurate. Actually, if something could have worked out, Robert would have been a huge proponent, just because of that investment and understanding that Trevor and his family are (based) on the West Coast. If we can do right for both parties, it should make sense. There’s no reason why you wouldn’t do something that benefits both parties.”
Ariza returning to the Lakers would have brought him back to Los Angeles where he attended Westchester High School before attending UCLA. While coming back to Los Angeles would have benefited him, it might not have benefited the Suns for more than one reason.
The easy answer is to say the trade package of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and a second draft pick offered by the Lakers was not enough. However, it could have also been that Jones did not want to get a bad reputation for helping the Lakers after already buying out Tyson Chandler to sign with them.
This would not have been a good look around the league for the recently promoted interim general manager. Nonetheless, the Lakers could still make a move for a different player that could help them end their five-year playoff drought.