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Wednesday July 8, 2009 5:26 PM

It's Official: Trevor Ariza Joins The Rockets

Houston welcomes athletic swingman to the fold

Jason Friedman
Rockets.com Staff

Houston - The Rockets made their first big splash of the summer Wednesday, signing uber-athletic swingman Trevor Ariza to a multi-year contract.

“Trevor is a young, athletic wing player who will thrive in Rick Adelman’s system,” said Rockets’ General Manager Daryl Morey. “Each year in the league Trevor has improved. What he has accomplished at a young age is already impressive and we expect his improvement to continue.”

One of the most sought-after free agents on the market, Ariza comes to Houston following a postseason in which he helped lift the Los Angeles Lakers to an NBA title. The 6-8 wing made his presence felt on both ends of the court, routinely shutting down opponents with his length and quickness, while displaying dead-eye marksmanship from downtown, draining 47.6% of his three-point attempts in the playoffs.

“Anytime you can sign an NBA champion that’s 24-years old I think you’ve got to jump at the chance,” said Morey, “and that’s what we did the minute we heard there was a shot we might be able to woo him from the Lakers’ fold.

“We love defensive players and still think they’re underrated around the league. Trevor is, we think, one of the best wing defenders. Trevor also knows how to contribute within whatever offense he’s been in. We feel like Coach (Adelman), having coached his offense for 30 years, can see very well how Trevor can plug into it. That’s why we feel like he can take that next step forward. He does what the coach asks him and I think, in our offense, Coach feels like he can ask more of him, given his athleticism and his quickness. We’re obviously going to be more up-tempo next year, so I think Trevor fits within that as well.”

Of course, Ariza had a chance to see the Rockets firsthand during the second round of the 2009 playoffs, when an under-manned Houston squad pushed the Lakers to the brink of elimination. That never say die mentality made a big impression on Ariza and he said that attitude played a big role in his decision to suit up in Rockets’ red next season.

“This is a great young team that has a lot of potential. They’re very scrappy and never give up and I believe that’s the type of player I am (too). That’s the type of players they have here and I’m happy to be a part of it. I know one thing and that's that we’re going to play hard every night and we’re going to fight.”

Morey said the Rockets signed Ariza using the disabled player exception they were granted by the NBA earlier this week.

“To keep our flexibility, we applied for an injury exception for Yao Ming and the league granted it. We applied for it a few weeks ago and it was approved a couple days ago. I think it’s real important since it keeps our flexibility to keep improving our team. This helps us a lot going forward.

“We’re not done. We’re hoping to do more. I think we’re going to be careful and not do anything just to do it. I think we’re only going to make a move when we feel like it will really improve the team. We want to keep adding players like Trevor; someone who can help us now and be part of a young core that’s going to grow together.”

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