Ariza's timing is terrific

FRANK ZICARELLI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:45 AM ET

Trevor Ariza has created quite the buzz in the basketball world with his ability to step up for the Lakers during L.A.'s post-season run, a journey that likely will end with a championship.

As well as Ariza has defended the perimeter, knocked down open shots and recorded steals by using his length and athleticism, the issue that surrounds Ariza is his abililty to create his own shot.

Perhaps Ariza has been able to excel because he's surrounded by players who make him better.

Kobe Bryant puts so much pressure on defences and draws so many defenders that Ariza often finds himself open on the perimeter.

It's a credit to Ariza that he has been quite proficient in making shots and no doubt there will be teams this summer that will be prepared to pay him handsomely by taking a shot at him.

But at what price?

No one expects Bryant to opt out of his contract.

Free agency looms for Lamar Odom, who has evolved into the ideal third option on a championship-contending team.

Like Odom, Ariza has found a fit in Los Angeles.

But unlike Odom, Ariza has yet to cash in on a lucrative contract.

By any standard, Ariza's $2.9-million US salary is a bargain.

At the very worst, teams will offer Ariza the mid-level exception, which is roughly double his pay, but there's a school of thought that believes Ariza may be able to triple and perhaps even quadruple his salary in a long-term deal.

On the surface, there seems to be no reason why Ariza, who grew up in L.A., would want to leave the Lakers, but money and the opportunity to be a team's third or second option can be intoxicating.

Whether Ariza is good enough to embrace a bigger role isn't known because he has yet to be put in that position.

No one in basketball knew exactly what Ariza was cap able of doing on the court.

He has persevered through a foot injury and a family tragedy, a loss that was poignantly documented during coverage of Game 2 of the NBA final on Sunday.

From afar, it would appear that Ariza finds himself in the perfect state and place.

But the allure of big-time money sometimes is too great to pass up.

Ariza turns 24 later this month.

He is entering the prime of his career and has garnered attention by playing on the biggest of NBA stages.

There will be a handful of big names available when free agency kicks in on July 1.

Ariza isn't the biggest name, but he might have one of the biggest impacts.

It all depends on whether a GM thinks Ariza is capable of creating and stepping into a new role that requires more responsibility.

MOVERS AND SHAKERS

Former Raptors Marcus Camby and Rafer Alston might yet be on the move again this summer.

The Clippers are high on Blake Griffin and barring something completely out of the ordinary will make the Oklahoma product the first overall pick on June 25.

The Clippers then will have a surplus of frontcourt bodies and Camby might be jettisoned.

The good-guy Camby didn't have much of an impact in his first season in L.A., but he wasn't alone.

Camby still has that unorthodox shooting form, but he can block shots and be a defensive presence in the paint.

Alston hasn't been much of a factor for Orlando in the final heading into Game 3 last night. He complained about his minutes following the Magic's Game 1 blowout loss and he never will accept a backup role.

That will leave Orlando in an awkward position for next season. Jameer Nelson is locked in long term and is the heart and soul of the Magic. Combined, Nelson and Alston will make in excess of $11 million next season.

It makes absolutely no sense to keep both, especially when Hedo Turkoglu is expected to opt out of his deal to test the free-agent waters.


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