News » Feeling needy, Ariza finds a home in Houston Free-agent forward sees a chance to grow

Feeling needy, Ariza finds a home in Houston Free-agent forward sees a chance to grow

Feeling needy, Ariza finds a home in Houston Free-agent forward sees a chance to grow
The recruiting efforts were powerful, and not just because LeBron James and Shaquille O'Neal, among others, were on the other end of the conversations.

Trevor Ariza had chosen to join the Rockets , but the Cleveland Cavaliers could offer a place on a legitimate championship contender. Ariza liked what he heard.

"We just came off a championship run (in Los Angeles)," Ariza said. "Fortunately, I had something to do with that. Everybody wants to win. I'm happy that people want me on their team. It was tempting. ... But at the end of the day, I felt like Houston was the better place for me.

"I felt like I can help this team a lot more and help myself also by being here."

It took Rockets general manager Daryl Morey only seconds to add the punch line.

"We need a lot of help," he said, not only offering a moment of gallows humor but revealing much about why the Rockets appealed to Ariza.

Ariza signed a five-year, $33.95 million contract with the Rockets on Wednesday, the first day free agents could be signed. Since the Rockets used the disabled player exception they received from the NBA because Yao Ming is expected to miss next season, they offered an indication they would like to make moves so they will not need Ariza quite so desperately.

Morey said there could be a free-agent addition, using a portion of the mid-level exception the Rockets protected by using the disabled player exception on Ariza, in the next week or two.

"We're not done," Morey said. "We're hoping to do more. We're going to be careful and not do anything just to do it, to plug a hole. ... We still have to address the center spot. I do think the center spot will still have to be addressed by trade."

Ariza was drawn to the chance to grow as a player and with a team in transition from its foundation around Yao and Tracy McGrady to its young core.

"I think I will have more opportunity here," the 6-8 forward said. "I was talking to coach (Rick Adelman) the other day. He was telling me that he saw what I did in the playoffs, how my game grew, and he felt there was still more room for growth and improvement, and he's going to give me a chance to nurture that and improve as a player.

"This is a great young team that has a lot of potential and is very, very scrappy. They never give up and I believe that is the type of player I am no matter what the situation is, whether we are up 100 or down 100, I'll still fight to the end."

Morey also saw potential for Ariza, 24, to bring more than the 8.9 points and 4.3 rebounds he averaged last season or the 11.3 and 4.2 rebounds he averaged in the playoffs. But he said he would be happy with the move if only for Ariza's ability to fit in with a team, rather than become a player to lead it.

"We feel like we've got a complementary guy," Morey said. "As he said, he's a team player who can help a team win no matter his role. He mentioned he added something to his game every year - shooting, off-the-dribble game.

"We see him as a young player who is going to keep improving. You don't find many players like Trevor who come into the league at that age (19 when he left UCLA after his freshman year) that don't continue to add to their game."

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: July 10, 2009


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