Feb 27, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Washington Wizards forward Trevor Ariza (1) is guarded as he goes to the basket against Toronto Raptors forward Amir Johnson (15) and center Jonas Valanciunas (17) at Air Canada Centre. The Wizards beat the Raptors 134-129 in triple overtime. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Trevor Ariza - Raptors' free agent target?


May 4, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Johnson (7) drives to the net against Toronto Raptors forward Patrick Patterson (54) in game seven of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at the Air Canada Centre. Brooklyn defeated Toronto 104-103. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Sheridan’s look at Unrestricted Free Agents (UFAs)  has got me mulling over which of these people should join the Toronto Raptors next season. Sheridan has listed Kyle Lowry as the fourth most-desirable UFA, and it should go without saying that I and every other Raptor fan wants him to return. I’ve also written about how much Luol Deng could help us, but he’s likely to be very expensive. Let’s zero in on Trevor Ariza.

In my view, the Washington Wizards made a serious mistake. They chose to sign Martell Webster, who’s always going to be great next season, to a multi-year deal, yet left Ariza without a contract. The Raps should pounce. Ariza is a veteran swingman who’s played for six teams in his 10-year NBA career. For me, that’s usually a red flag, but I’ve decided Trevor is a late bloomer. He started 77 games for the playoff-bound Wiz, averaging over 14 points and 6 boards per game. Trevor suddenly developed a 3-point shot, averaging 2.3 makes at a 40.7% rate, both career highs. For the Raps, a long-ball team, he’d fit in nicely. Coach Dwane Casey would also appreciate Trevor’s defensive prowess. He’s the Wiz’ best on the ball defender and an active helper.

Trevor doesn’t have a position, and doesn’t need one. He can play shooting guard or small forward, and doesn’t look out of place guarding stretch-4s on the perimeter. Sheridan describes him as a “glue guy”, but I think he’s more than that.

I’m not suggesting Trevor is going to push any of our starters to the bench, although I’m confident he’ll try. Being on the second unit again may be of little appeal to Trevor, who has averaged a lot of minutes the past few seasons. However, he’s 29 and without a contract. Playing for a playoff contender in Toronto may look mighty good in early July if the offers aren’t flowing.

Would I choose Trevor over Patrick Patterson? No. Two-Pat is younger and likely to cost less. But the Raps need one of them, and I’d be happy if we signed both.

I’m not interested in re-jigging the Raps’ roster much. The chemistry is right, the prices are right, so I’m firmly in the “No trades” camp. [20-second timeout: Please don't send me "What about Landry Fields or Chuck Hayes?" notes. I'm saying don't trade any of our tradeable players.] However, there’s always room for a versatile hustling veteran like Trevor Ariza, and I’d get an offer sheet out to him as soon as the calendar turns over into July. He made $7.7M last season, and is certainly worth $26M on a 3-year deal.

What do you think, Rapture Nation? Does the acquisition of Ariza make sense? Comments please.

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