Ron Artest Now A Laker

Paul PeszkoSenior Writer IJuly 2, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 17:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers hugs Ron Artest #96 of the Houston Rockets after the Lakers defeated the Rockets 89-70 in Game Seven of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 17, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Last night in my update of the first day of free agency "The NBA’s Free Agency Merry-Go-Round Begins: Day One," I wrote:

"If Ariza does choose to take one of the other offers, that means two things. First, the Lakers have definitely decided to keep Lamar Odom, and second, Ron Artest may change his mind about remaining in Houston and take the mid-level exemption that Mitch Kupchak offered Ariza."

This afternoon, CBS Sports just reported that Ron Artest is in Los Angeles and has agreed to sign a three-year deal with the Lakers worth approximately $18 million. Apparently Artest met with Lakers’ owner Jerry Buss and GM Mitch Kupchak today and worked out a verbal agreement

Earlier reports had the Cavaliers in the hunt for Artest. However, since they could only sign one free agent for the mid-level exemption, they seemed to be favoring the Lakers’ Trevor Ariza.  But now that Artest is definitely leaving Houston, the Rockets are also courting Ariza.

Artest brings to the Lakers' defense the kind of upside that Pau Gasol brought to the Lakers' offense two years ago.

UPDATE: It's official.  Ariza has agreed to a five-year deal fwith the Houston Rockets for the full mid-level exemption of $5.8 million per year.

So, that’s the big news on Day Two, even bigger than Shaquille O’Neal being introduced to Cleveland fans. By the way, doesn’t Shaq look pretty in pink?