Ariza Arrives: Suns Introduce Veteran Forward

With a little help from modern technology, Phoenix Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough and Vice President of Basketball Operations James Jones wasted little time pursuing their top-choice free agent in veteran forward Trevor Ariza Sunday night.

“He and his wife were actually coming back from a wedding so we FaceTimed him in the car,” McDonough said with a smile Friday morning at Talking Stick Resort Arena. “That was our first call. He was our top priority and I think they felt that.”

A 14-year veteran and NBA Champion, Ariza adds leadership to a young team searching for an identity in the loaded Western Conference.

“I look at myself as a competitor, a winner,” Ariza said. “I do everything I can to try to make our team better everywhere I’ve been. I know coming here is going to be a challenge of trying to improve and get better in teaching.”

There’s quite a bit of improving ahead for Phoenix who won just 21 games last year but with Ariza, as well as rookie first-round picks Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges, the Suns appear to have a blueprint moving forward.

“We’re going to try to take a big step this year,” McDonough explained. “We’re going to try to be the most improved team in the league. If we’re able to do that, next year we’ll have more salary cap space, our young players have a year [more] of maturity.”

The 33-year-old Ariza, who signed a one-year deal worth a reported $15 million, holds career averages of 10.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 942 games with six different teams. He’s also a 35.3 percent three-point shooter.