Trevor Ariza was nearly dealt to the Washington Wizards on Friday before a mixup with the names of the players involved in the deal nixed the transaction. However, the Wizards were far from the most prominent team involved in the still-ongoing Ariza sweepstakes. The Los Angeles Lakers had been interested in Ariza for weeks. But on Friday, their pursuit hit a major snag that had nothing to do with the Wizards. David Aldridge of The Athletic reported that "Suns owner Robert Sarver was adamant that he would not send Trevor Ariza to the Lakers." When that came to light in the organization, the Suns "pivoted to other options," which meant, for the moment, the Wizards.
The implication of pivoting to other options is that the Lakers were close to coming up with a satisfactory trade from a basketball perspective, and that Sarver refused to trade with the Lakers on principle. If so, that would be one of the most stubborn displays of pettiness in recent NBA history. That is true even with the history surrounding the Lakers and Suns.
Many around the NBA were upset when the Suns bought out Tyson Chandler in November, which allowed him to sign with the Lakers three months earlier than most players who are bought out. There was some speculation that Suns GM James Jones, a former teammate of LeBron James, agreed to make the move as a favor to his friend. There is little actual evidence of this, though, and if Sarver actually believed it, he would probably have grounds to fire Jones for acting in the best interests of another organization. That he did not indicates that the Suns made the move for their own purposes. Helping a well-respected veteran like Chandler reach his desired destination will earn the Suns some goodwill with other players.
But the Suns have always had something of an inferiority complex when it comes to the Lakers. The two teams share a division and have both been competitive for most of their histories, but the Lakers have 16 championships while the Suns have none. The Lakers have beaten the Suns in several big playoff series, most recently in the 2010 Western Conference Finals.