More often than not, NBA players don’t have true control over their destiny. They know they’re going to play, they know they’re going to get paid, but they don’t always know where that’s going to happen or who’s going to be signing the checks.
That’s why they take free agency so seriously. It’s not just about choosing the right team, the best fit, or the most money. It’s also about control, knowing where you’re going to live and where your children are going to go to school. It goes beyond basketball.
However, young players rarely have a chance of doing so or a say in what happens to them. The NBA is a business and GMs constantly do what they think it’s best for the franchise, even if that means trading away players to a place they don’t want to go.
That’s exactly what happened to Trevor Ariza back in 2007 when he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers despite the fact that he didn’t want to join them. Instead, the forward wanted to join their city rivals and play for the Los Angeles Clippers:
“First, I am going back home to my momma! It was kinda.. weird. I didn’t really want to play for the Lakers, I wanted to play for the Clippers. That is what I told the GM, at the time,” Ariza told Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles on their podcast ‘Knuckleheads’.
Ariza went on to elaborate that he didn’t think the Lakers would’ve been a good fit for him at just 22 years old with Lamar Odom and Metta World Peace also on the team, and the Clippers would’ve give him more playing time.
At the end of the day, Ariza didn’t have any kind of complaints about his time with the purple and gold, as he was a steady contributor off the bench for them during their Championship run in 2008-09, cementing his reputation as a 3-and-D asset.