Hey, Trevor Ariza…How Does My ARTEST Taste?

Jabber HeadSenior Analyst IJuly 3, 2009

As a Lakers fan, I want to extend my deepest gratitude to Trevor Ariza for two reasons: 1) He played a significant role in the Lakers winning the NBA Championship, and 2) He just played an even more significant role in better positioning the Lakers for a repeat in 2010.

For all intents and puposes, Ariza just traded himself to Houston in exchange for Ron Artest. Okay, so it was twin free agent moves and not a trade, but it worked out the same way.

Ariza balked at the $5.6 million mid-level exception offer to stay with the Lakers. Then, “Mr Insulted” agrees to sign with the Rockets for $5.8 million per year…HUH???.

In doing so, he allowed Ron Artest to happily step in and take essentially the same deal (actually it’s $6 Mil/year, but what’s a few hundred grand among NBA friends?).

THANK YOU, TREVOR…for playing hard ball with Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak!

Ariza, very all of a sudden, became a good, versatile, starting role player at the 3-spot, both offensively and defensively. I was hoping the Lakers could hold on to him.

Ariza is an exceptional defender on the perimeter, but Artest is an exceptional defender all over the court. Ariza recently developed a strong, consistent three-point shot and is deadly going to the hole on fast breaks. Artest, however, can score from anywhere on the floor.

THANK YOU, TREVOR…for playing hard ball with Lakers GM, Mitch Kupchak!

So, for virtually the same money, the Lakers get an All-Star-caliber player who’s the same height, 50 lbs heavier (but just as athletic), more experienced (but only 29 years old), averaged last season almost twice as many points/game (17.1 vs 8.9) & assists/game (3.3 vs 1.8), about the same number of rebounds per game, is more versatile, and is, by an order of magnitude, a lot tougher.

They also get a player who has no rings and is therefore a whole lot hungrier.

THANK YOU, TREVOR…for playing hard ball with Lakers GM, Mitch Kupchak!

Speaking of tougher, think about it…In two years, with Gasol getting stronger, attitudinally and physically, Odom doing so attitudinally (assuming he stays), Bynum at least working on it…sorta, and now the addition of Ron “I Be’z From Da Hood” Artest, the Lakers will have evolved from one of the wimpiest teams…especially re: their “Bigs”…in the league, to one of the toughest.

THANK YOU, TREVOR…for playing hard ball with Lakers GM, Mitch Kupchak!

Several contending teams…Cavs, Magic, Spurs, Celtics et al have made and/or are in the process of making solid moves to improve.

The 2009-10 season is shaping up to be a war. For the Lakers to have a strong shot at repeating, they had also had to improv—and they have—assuming that they can re-sign Odom…but if they can’t, with the addition of Artest, they’ll still be among the elite teams.

THANK YOU, TREVOR…for playing hard ball with Lakers GM, Mitch Kupchak!

The acquisition of Artest is also a sign—at least in my mind—that Phil Jackson will be back. I say that because not just any coach can handle the volatile Artest—and surely the Lakers’ management knows thit—and I’d bet that Phil’s girlfriend, Ms. Buss, checked with Phil before Kupchak & her dad “did da do” with Artest.

Phil won his second three-peat with the Bulls while integrating the Ultimate Looney Toon, Dennis Rodman, in with MJ and Pipp—the former of which accurately viewed Rodman as a goof ball and latter of which hated Rodman’s gutt—justifiably after Rodman had mentally and physically abused Pippen when Rodman was with the Pistons.

Surely, “The Zen Master” can get Ron and Kobe to “play nice” together since they actually respect each other and only hate each other when competing.

THANK YOU, TREVOR…uhh…never mind…but I do want to ask you, Trevor…HOW DOES MY ARTEST TASTE?

Reg DeVone
is a Sports Jabber Contributing Author.

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