Lakers Waive Championship-Winning Forward to Make Room for Young Player

rob pelinka

Getty Los Angeles Lakers GM Rob Pelinka.

The Los Angeles Lakers have waived the white flag for the season. After getting eliminated from playoff contention, the team has decided to sit LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook for the rest of the season. With the season lost, Los Angeles has already started making roster arrangements.

The Lakers announced that they’ve decided to waive veteran forward Trevor Ariza.

According to Shams Charania, the team is letting go of the veteran so that they can use the roster spot “to convert a young player prior to Sunday’s deadline.”

Ariza will always be an important part of Lakers’ history due to his role on the championship team in 2009. His homecoming to the team wasn’t as exciting as anybody hoped. Early on, he suffered an injury that caused him to miss the beginning weeks of the season. He only ended up playing in 24 games and never made the impact the team hoped he would. It perhaps wasn’t fair to rely on a 36-year-old with an injury history but that’s not Ariza’s fault. If he goes unclaimed off waivers, he’ll have a chance to sign with a playoff team.

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Which Player Will Lakers Use Roster Spot On?

The Lakers wouldn’t have waived Ariza right now had they not had a player they wanted to keep in mind. The most likely player who will get a contract is Wenyen Gabriel. The 25-year-old forward only recently joined the team on a two-way contract but he’s impressed the Lakers with his defensive effort and athleticism.

With Stanley Johnson and Austin Reaves already technically under contract for next season, Gabriel is the most realistic option for them to keep. He’s not about to turn into a star at 25 but he brings a lot more upside than a player like Ariza. If he ends up getting a whole offseason with the team under his belt, he could be a key role player for Los Angeles next season.

Will Lakers Look to Go Younger?

Now that Ariza is being shown the door in favor of a younger player, the Lakers are finally admitting that relying on a bunch of older players wasn’t the best idea. They had the oldest team in the NBA this season and that turned out to be a disaster. Ariza is just the first older player to go but there will likely be more. Out of the older players, Carmelo Anthony might be the only one who has a chance to stay. He’s a liability on defense but proved he can still score as he’s averaged 13.3 points a game this season.

Other veterans like Dwight Howard, Kent Bazemore, Wayne Ellington and Avery Bradley have virtually no chance to stick around. All four of them had inconsistent roles and weren’t really impact players for the team. The Lakers would be wise to focus on bringing in some more youth this offseason. There’s nothing wrong with having veterans but having a roster with mostly 30+ players is not a recipe for success in an 82 game season.

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