Lakers trade Brian Cook and Maurice Evans for Orlando's Trevor Ariza

Not sure if this is what Kobe Bryant meant when he demanded new running mates, but the Lakers acquired 6' 8" swingman Trevor Ariza from the Orlando Magic on Tuesday for forward Brian Cook and guard Maurice Evans. While Ariza isn't quite Jermaine O'Neal, he is an upgrade over Cook and Evans. He adds athleticism and lock-down defensive skills to the Lakers small forward spot, elements that were lacking in players like Luke Walton and Vladimir Radmanovic. And Ariza can run the floor, finish at the basket and rebounds well for a small forward.

The Lakers addditionally benefitted by dumping Cook's 3-year $10.5 million and Evans' 1-year $1.5 contracts -- Ariza has only 2 years and $5.6 million on his deal. The trade also creates a roster spot for the Lakers, who could, if they were so inclined, go after a free agent like PJ Brown or Chris Webber. In the end though, this deal has as much to do with salaries as it does with actual basketball talent. GM Mitch Kup-cake has made a lot of bad moves during his tenure, but perhaps this will go down as one of his better ones.

To celebrate the deal, or perhaps just because they can, the Lakers went out and put the beat-down on the Indiana Pacers, beating JO's squad by a score of 134-114.

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