Kings’ Trevor Ariza excited to reunite with former teammate Luke Walton

LAS VEGAS — The Sacramento Kings‘ newest signee, Trevor Ariza, will enter his 16th season in a new environment, but with a familiar face. 

Kings coach Luke Walton — who was hired in April — played two seasons with the veteran wing, a distinction Ariza believes will help his transition.   

“Just knowing him, knowing how he works, the relationship that we have definitely made it easier to try or go to a new situation,” Ariza said during his introductory press conference alongside Dewayne Dedmon, Cory Joseph and Harrison Barnes in Las Vegas Monday afternoon. 

“Just his style of play. You know, the understanding that his basketball, how his basketball mind works is similar to my game,” Ariza added. “So, I just thought that it was a great fit for me. Whatever the role is I felt like being here we’ll have a better understanding of what we’re doing, what we’re working towards.”

Ariza — who signed a two-year, $25 million contract with the Kings — played with Walton from 2007-2009, winning the 2009 NBA title as members of the Kobe Bryant-led Los Angeles Lakers. Since his time in Los Angeles, Ariza has played two stints with both the Rockets and Wizards. Last season, he averaged 12.5 points, 5.4 assists and 3.7 rebounds for the Phoenix Suns before a midseason trade sent him to Washington.

Ariza’s arrival comes during a critical time in Sacramento’s trajectory. Last season, the King won 39 games — their most in more than a decade — displaying a fast-paced unit led by De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and Barnes. 

Though a team on the rise, the Kings’ ascent comes just as the Western Conference is gaining strength. During the same period Ariza signed with the Kings, perennial All-Star Kawhi Leonard joined the LA Clippers alongside fellow All-Star Paul George, while the Lakers traded for center Anthony Davis. Adding to the degree of difficulty, Walton is only in his third month on the job. Still, Ariza has faith in the new group. 

“This is basketball,” Ariza said. “It doesn’t matter who’s on the team, you still gotta go out there and win and play. You know, of course, everything looks good in the beginning. Everything looks good on paper, but you still gotta go out and play the game. And every time you go out and play, you give yourself a chance to win.”

Ariza’s addition is welcome for a team that trotted out the league’s fifth-youngest roster last season. Fox — their best player — is just 21 years old. The roster construction is similar to Ariza’s time in Phoenix last season, when the average age of the team was 25.2 years. Entering his 16th NBA season, Ariza believes he and his former teammate can help the Kings be successful. 

[RELATED: Barnes preaching ‘culture of family’ to young Kings in Vegas]

“There’s guys that have a ton of experience. So all the wisdom or whatever wouldn’t just be coming from me,” Ariza said. “It’d be coming from a different group of guys. And I think it’s easier when you don’t have to hear the same voice over and over and over again. That’s key for us.”

Kings’ Trevor Ariza excited to reunite with former teammate Luke Walton originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

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