Three, two, one, Buzz! The Lakers are Champions of the NBA World! Kobe finally gets his championship without Shaq.
Can you believe it was only a few weeks ago that the Lakers dominated the Magic and to their 15th NBA Title? Me neither. Now we have come to free agency and the Lakers are the big team again.
In the first week of free agency, two star players have greatly influenced the Lakers. They have gained former Houston great Ron Artest, but lost up-and-coming forward Trevor Ariza.
Artest has had a history with the Lakers. The 10 year pro is recently recognized among Los Angeles fans as "the Houston player that got in Kobe's face."
This past year during a playoff series vs the Lakers, Artest got in quite a feud with LA's star forward Kobe Bryant. Although it didn't get too serious, I would have never thought these two could be teammates.
Even before the argument between the two, Artest was still an outspoken player. Known for disagreeing with just about everyone—including refs, players, coaches and teammates—Artest has spent many games on his couch watching because of suspension.
On the other hand, there is Trevor Ariza.
Ariza lets his play do the talking. After entering the draft after one year at UCLA, the fifth year pro has played for three different teams. He was drafted by the Knicks, was traded to Orlando, then was traded again to LA. In his second season with the Lakers, he finally had his breakout year.
During a playoff run that ended with a championship, Ariza averaged a little over 11 points per game while playing great defense, and averaging just over one and a half turnovers per game. He also had two crucial steals in the Western Conference finals that assured victory in two games during the six game series.
There is the background on the two players, but now it's time to answer the question: Who got the better deal?
Here are the advantages for each team:
Advantages for Houston
The youth of Trevor Ariza should pay off in the long run. Getting rid of the controversy should take some of the fire out of Artest rivals. Trevor Ariza will most certainly improve. He is no where near the prime of his career.
Advantages for Los Angeles
As of now, Artest is the better player. Their will not be the mental errors that come with young players.
Now here are the disadvantages:
Disadvantages for Houston
There will be less fire and desire to win.
With Yao Ming most likely out for the season, where will leadership come from?
Will Trevor Ariza fit into the Rockets system?
Disadvantages for Los Angeles
It won't be long until Ron Artest breaks down and falls from his greatness.
This is Kobe's team.
Will Artest be able to accept that he isn't the leader?
Phil Jackson is a calm coach that coaches with his mind, not his emotion. Will Artest be able to settle down and work in this system.
Losing Ariza's youth is sure to hurt them in the long run.
So after evaluating both sides, I have come to the conclusion that by the end of these two outstanding player's careers, the Houston Rockets have gotten the better end of this deal. Trevor Ariza should mature into one of the best players in the NBA.
Although this will hurt the Lakers, they still should be title contenders for years to come. I can't wait to see how this plays out.