Leading young Wizards wasn't easy for Trevor Ariza

Leading young Wizards wasn't easy for Trevor Ariza
July 21, 2014, 6:00 am
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(Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports)

Trevor Ariza finally talked about his reasons for leaving the Wizards after two seasons, forcing a trade to the Houston Rockets earlier this month.

The obvious ones were wanting to win and being comfortable in Houston where he played for one season.

"I settled on Houston for one because I'm familiar with my surroundings," Ariza told reporters during a Friday conference call, according to CSNhouston.com "I just felt like the fit here was similar to what I had in Washington."

Ariza, 29, wasn't always comfortable with being looked to for leadership in Washington, especially with a young backcourt in John Wall and Bradley Beal. When the Wizards began last season 2-7 and appeared headed for disaster, it was Ariza who called a players-only meeting to get them back on track. The result was 44 wins and advancing to the second round of the playoffs.

"I had to lead players. I felt like in the first time in my career, I had to actually lead players that -- not trying to disrespect anyone -- I had to lead players that were better than me," Ariza said. "Having to do that, it takes a lot of  patience, you have to understand the people that you are playing with and understand what they can do. When you have talented players like Bradley and John Wall, you just want to see the best for them. Your team only goes as far as those players take you. You just try to push that and get the most you can out of them while you are on the court with them."

In Houston, Ariza has more battle-tested teammates in James Harden and Dwight Howard, though they failed to get past the first round of the playoffs last season. 

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"I've talked to a couple of the guys. James, being a California kid we already had a relationship prior to me being on the team, so we talk frequently. He's most excited about our opportunity to play together," Ariza said. "Dwight, of course, we spoke, just on we want to win together. Patrick Beverley was extremely excited, he called me and told me how excited he was that we could possibly be on the floor at the same time. It's just an exciting time, we know that we are going to push each other to be the best we can when we are competing on the court together, competing against other teams."

Ariza is coming off a career season in which he shot 40.7% from the three-point line.

"I'm more mature, I don't get frustrated as easy as I once did," Ariza said. "I learned patience. I learned my game. I know what I can do, I know what I can't do and I also know that I have room for improvement and growth as well. That's the biggest thing that I've learned.

"The first time I was here, it was like my rookie year. I never had that ultra-green light to make plays happen and be that main guy on the team. That was actually my first time in those shoes, trying to have that role. I learned that is not an easy role and a lot of work goes into that. I just took my experience from that time and tried to put that all together (the last few years)."