The Los Angeles Lakers are signing veteran wings Trevor Ariza and Kent Bazemore and sharpshooter Wayne Ellington to one-year deals, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Yahoo’s Chris Haynes, respectively. Ariza, Bazemore and Ellington are all returning to Los Angeles for their second stints with the Lakers. Ariza won a championship in purple and gold during the 2008-09 season, an outcome the Lakers hope to repeat. Ellington joined on later, for the 2014-15 campaign, and Bazemore was there just before that in 2014.
Ariza is a prototypical 3-and-D forward. He typically hovers around league-average from behind the arc, but has shot over 40 percent in stints with the Washington Wizards and Portland Trail Blazers. Where he really makes his name is as a wing defender. Though he isn’t quite as strong on that end of the floor as he once was, players capable of defending elite small forwards are rare. Ariza has the physical dimensions to do so without compromising the offense.
Ellington is more one-dimensional. He will not help the defense as much as Ariza, but he won’t need to as one of the NBA‘s best shooters. Ellington hit 42.2 percent of his 3-pointers last season and has made over 38 percent for his career, but has done so largely on non-contending teams. He made 45 percent of his wide-open 3-pointers last year. LeBron James creates plenty of those, so he should fit in very well to a Lakers offense that badly needs spacing now that Russell Westbrook is in place.
Bazemore should provide some of it as well. He is roughly a league-average shooter for his career, but he made 40.8 percent of his attempts last season while providing solid defense. He is also one of the NBA’s most beloved teammates, a trait that the Lakers prize. They’ve had Jared Dudley for the past two seasons for that exact reason.
James, Westbrook and Anthony Davis make the Lakers one of the most attractive destinations in the league for veterans looking for a chance to win a championship. Ariza and Ellington are the first two players to make their way to Los Angeles under that premise, but they won’t be the last. The Lakers are building an entire supporting cast in free agency after dealing most of their old one to get Westbrook. Ariza and Ellington are a very nice start.