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Trevor Ariza’s short but sweet stay in Los Angeles might be coming to an end.
The 24-year-old swingman, who played a key role in the Lakers’ run to their 15th NBA championship, is on the verge of leaving the club, sources close to the situation said on Wednesday.
With at least five teams pursuing Ariza, the Lakers are currently unwilling to pay him more than the $5.6 million mid-level exception.
“They’re letting him go,” one of the sources said.
Cleveland is making a hard push for Ariza, and the Cavaliers’ coaching staff was speaking with him on Wednesday. While Cleveland can only offer the mid-level as well, Ariza’s disappointment with the Lakers’ stance has moved other suitors ahead of his current team.
The Rockets, Clippers, Raptors and Blazers are also showing interest in Ariza. Portland and Toronto could each offer more than the mid-level exception.
If the Lakers refuse to increase their offer, it’s a clear indication that they are choosing their other big free agent forward, Lamar Odom, over the younger Ariza.
Ariza averaged 8.9 points and 4.3 rebounds in the regular season for the Lakers last season. He increased his scoring to 11.3 points and had 4.2 rebounds per game in the playoffs. He had 16 points and 15 points in the last two Lakers victories in the Finals.
Those numbers were a jump over his career averages of 6.9 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. Ariza has played for three teams in his five-year career.
Chris Broussard covers the NBA for ESPN The Magazine.