So, yeah, Trevor Ariza and Ron Artest swapped teams. Ariza is going to be saddled with more responsibilities in a team that MIGHT have trouble making the playoffs while Artest is going to be asked (and probably willing) to be a #2, 3, 4, 5, or even #6 option in a championship team.
Last we heard, Ariza (or rather Ariza’s agent, David Lee… no, not the New York Knicks player) wanted $8-9 million. I think Mitch Kupchak knew what he was doing. He knew that Ariza wasn’t going to get much more than the mid-level exception (projected to be around slightly less than $6 million per year). The only ones that could’ve paid him more were Detroit, Portland, and Toronto. Detroit already spent their dough on Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon. Portland and Toronto are busy wrestling over Hedo Turkoglu‘s services.
So Ariza explored his options. But when Ron Artest is roaming around freely, what were the Lakers supposed to do? Sit on their asses and watch another team snatch him up? Of course, I’d take Artest at a bargain. Especially since Artest actually WANTS to go to L.A. In a bizarre twist, Trevor went to Ron’s former team, the Rockets. For essentially the same money L.A. put on the table. Way to go, Agent Assface.
Let’s talk about the comparisons here. Do we seriously think that Trevor Ariza is as good as Ron Artest? Artest is more talented offensively than Ariza. He can post up, take it to the hole better, and make his perimeter shots. Sure, Ron takes wild shots… but in a better system and team, I think he’ll be fine. Ariza became a dead-eye shooter, yes, but will he get those same looks in Houston?
Defensively, Artest is more physical and will get under the opponent’s skin. Ariza is a very good defender but I don’t think he’s shutdown material. He’s very good at anticipating the shot and the pass, yes (right, Denver?), but Artest is the better one-on-one guy.
And you’ve got to be kidding me when people say that Ariza has a higher ceiling. No disrespect to Trevor Ariza; I love his game. But I don’t expect to see any Tracy McGrady breakout seasons from this guy. I’m willing to eat my words if he averages 25-6-7 next season because he now has room to do that with Houston not really having a go-to scorer aside from Aaron Brooks. But I just don’t see Ariza getting much better than what he did in L.A. We already know what Ron Artest can do. He always brings it. Again, I understand that Ron Artest’s shot selection has been porous but I don’t think he’ll be asked to chuck that many shots in L.A. And I don’t think he’ll complain about it, either.
But Ariza is younger, right? Of course. But you already know what I think of his ceiling. Was he supposed to be the next guy to step in when Kobe retires? Was Ariza going to be Kobe five years from now? I don’t think age is a factor. Artest will probably retire, too, to resume his music career when Kobe retires. Maybe Ron and Kobe will do a song together. With Tyra Banks. Or Allure. If that’s the concern, then the Lakers have to get their next superstar-in-waiting. But that’s five years down the line. Let’s talk about now.
I know what the Lakers are getting in Ron. Yes, he’s a potential headache but I’d bank on him behaving. At the very least, I know Ron Artest will get suspended a few games next season. But it’s not like Phil Jackson hasn’t dealt with egos and nutcases in his coaching career. I’m sure y’all remember Dennis Rodman. Phil will just let Artest do his thang. And Kobe is definitely much more manageable now than when he was 25. There’s no doubt that Ariza fit like a glove in L.A. but the Lakers look that much more dangerous if Artest fits in as well. And I think he will.
What are the Rockets getting with Ariza? Well, Ariza’s only had one good year (and that was with L.A.). At his best, I can see him defend his man, make open threes (if there are any open threes), and hmmmmm… I guess, not much else. I just see him more as a complimentary player. Kinda like one they have now (Shane Battier). Ariza was more replaceable than, say, Lamar Odom (who is as versatile as you can get). But geez. I think Ariza really lost out in this deal (yes, I know… he’s getting money but if you’re a good NBA player, of course, you’ll make millions).
What really gets me is the dealings between this Lee creature and Kupchak (who, by the way, has done a fantastic job recently as general manager).
“I can tell you definitively Trevor had an offer that was nine million more than what the Rockets offered and he decided to go with Houston.”
So was that signing a way of sticking it to the Lakers? Oh, whoopee. He signed with Houston. Yay. TAKE THAT, L.A.
“It’s like I told (Lakers General Manager) Mitch Kupchak. It was never about the money. It was about being at a place where he felt wanted and appreciated.”
The Lakers resurrected his career and gave him a raise. Kupchak knew his market value. They traded for him. And if it wasn’t about the money… how come they didn’t sign with the Lakers then? It doesn’t make sense to me at all. It was about respect? So why did Lee put him in a troubled situation? If he was going to place Ariza in a troubled situation then you might as well get him more money, right? There’s also the potential that we might have already seen Ariza’s ceiling. Ouch.
Agent Assface tried to play hardball and lost. I don’t exactly blame Ariza for wanting to explore his options for more money (it’s the first, and maybe only, big contract he’s getting) but they should’ve known the marketplace better. I think if Artest wasn’t free, negotiations would’ve gone longer and Ariza may still be a Laker today. Good luck in H-Town, Trevor. You played your role very well. I’m sure you’re gonna be knockin’ da boots.
Welcome the Tru Warier to L.A. I’ve always liked Ron Artest. And I’m happy that we have a nutcase in the Lakers. I don’t think the Lakers will be bored in the regular season with Artest around. I know I won’t be.
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