Broderick Turner of the LA Times wrote:
Quietly, Trevor Ariza stayed away from the storm created when Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said last week that Ariza could start this season at small forward in place of Lamar Odom.
While Odom voiced his unhappiness during the first two days of training camp over the possibility of being a reserve player, Ariza has gone about his business of playing basketball, leaving the melodrama to Odom and Jackson.
Whether he's a starter, sixth man or the last player off the bench, Ariza just wants to contribute.
"I haven't had no conversation with Phil about that," Ariza said. "I really don't care. I'm here to play basketball. Whether I start, come off the bench, whatever role I play, that's what I'm going to do. I'm not going to stress over it. L.O. is a great player too."
Jackson suggested the starting lineup could change if the big frontline of Odom, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum doesn't produce the desired results.
The 6-foot-8 Ariza, known as a slasher and defensive player, could then get the nod from Jackson.
"I'm very proud that he feels that way about me," Ariza said. "I'm not just going to be over-excited. It's just basketball. I know he thinks a lot of me as a person. ... Everybody wants to play. Everybody wants to be a starter, be an All-Star, be whatever, be the best that they can be. That's what I'm trying to do."
Ariza was acquired in a trade with Orlando last November. He missed four months as a Laker during the regular season recovering from a fractured right foot, but he returned for the Western Conference finals.
Ariza, a local kid who went to Westchester High and UCLA, spent the summer working on his game and getting his foot healthy.
"All summer I've been working toward getting my foot back in shape, getting my health all together," he said. "I'm finally 100 percent. I'm ready to go."
In 24 games last season with the Lakers, Ariza averaged 6.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and showed that he was a strong defender.
After the season, Jackson implored Ariza to work on his jump shot.
Three days into camp, Jackson described Ariza's jumper.
"I don't think anybody is going to consider him a threat. I think he's got an adequate jump shot, and he can keep people honest," Jackson said today after practice. "However, that's not the strength of his game. His game is going to be getting out there and slashing (to the basket)."
Ariza is in the last year of a contract that pays him $3.1 million this season.
In many ways, he is showcasing his skills to the basketball world with the intentions of getting a big payday.
"I'm not going to worry about this being the last year of my contract," Ariza said. "I know I'm young, 23 years old. I've got a lot of potential. I'm ready to show what I've been working on, show what I've been doing all summer. There's no pressure on me. I took all the pressure off this summer by working on my game."