10 Players the New Orleans Pelicans gave up on way too soon

New Orleans Pelicans, Chris Paul (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
New Orleans Pelicans, Chris Paul (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /
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New Orleans Pelicans, Trevor Ariza
New Orleans Pelicans, Trevor Ariza (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images) /

6. Trevor Ariza

Trevor Ariza was an accomplished veteran by the time he arrived in New Orleans. The 6’8 wing helped the Lakers win the championship in 2009 as a starter on the wing throughout their postseason run. Ariza left the Lakers for the Houston Rockets in free agency after winning the title, where he averaged a career-high 14.9 points per game as a starter.

Collison was a promising young point guard, but Ariza was a better fit next to Chris Paul, and the Pelicans believed they could make a run. The 6’8 wing started in New Orleans and helped the Hornets get back to the playoffs, but they were knocked out by the Lakers in the first round.

Paul was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2011 offseason, and the Pelicans nosedived. They won just 21 games in the 2011-2012 season, and injuries limited Ariza to just 41 of the 66 games in the shortened regular season. The Hornets traded him and Emeka Okafor to the Washington Wizards for Rashad Lewis and a second-round pick in the 2012 offseason.

Trevor Ariza was far from done at that point. He helped the Wizards reach the second round of the playoffs in 2014 and made two conference finals appearances with the Rockets in 2015 and 2018. The 6’8 wing did plenty of dirty work to help his teams win, and the Pelicans could have used a key rotation piece like Ariza, as they made the playoffs just twice in the next decade.