Ron Artest wants out. Mitch Kupchak wants to deal. Time to make a move.
The Lakers should go get Carmelo Anthony right now and save themselves the hassle of trying to pin together a team who is rattled at the core. Right now, Melo is making $17 million for the remainder of the 2011 season. They would shed $6.3 million from Artest’s deal, and they would have to pay luxury tax if they exceed the cap. They would give up Artest to essentially rent Anthony.
However, if Anthony tasted a championship and found comfort in Los Angeles, don’t rule him out re-signing.
Right now, the Los Angeles Lakers have hit the wall and need to make a move. This is different than a simple four-game losing streak or a midseason slump that they’ve experienced in the past. Most championship teams hit a few speed bumps in the season, Phil Jackson’s teams included.
However, this is very different than the minor slumps the Lakers experienced in the previous championship seasons. This year seems like the Lakers are stuck in the ditch and spinning their tires—dropping games by double digits to the Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs and most recently the Boston Celtics at home.
Jerry West has recently made headlines for calling the team out for not playing defense. Mitch Kupchak’s offseason acquisitions have been nothing less than terrible. Matt Barnes has been hurt and Steve Blake has been useless and uncomfortable in the triangle offense. Steve Blake was a downgrade from Jordan Farmar.
If the Lakers try their best and can’t rent Carmelo Anthony, they should go get Richard Hamilton from Detroit and try to get the Pistons to absorb some of his contract (he has two years, $25 million remaining). They may want to involve Detroit in a three-way deal to get Anthony, as well, as Detroit’s primary goal is to get rid of Hamilton’s contract and free up cap space.
But if they can’t get Melo, they should consider bringing Trevor Ariza back. Ironically, Ariza was the guy who switched places with Artest after the 2009 championship. Ariza fits perfectly in the triangle offense and the team's points-per-game production was at a high in 2008-09, averaging 106.9 points per game. New Orleans may be looking to deal him as their franchise has been losing money.
The Lakers need to make a move or it’s going to be a less-than Melo sendoff for Hall of Fame legend Phil Jackson.