Ron Artest is apparently just "frustrated with the losing, as everyone [on the Lakers] is", according to his agent, David Bauman, via the Los Angeles Times.
Because, you know, that makes total sense. There's just too much losing going on with the Lakers. Wait, they're the two time defending NBA Champions, you say? And they're currently sitting in first place in the Pacific Division by 10.5 games? Oh. Well then, nix that.
Sure, they recently lost four out of seven, including a home drubbing by the Boston Celtics, and they have a showdown against the San Antonio Spurs coming up on Thursday, but still. Nobody can really say losing is the problem for the Lakers right now.
But whatever the true cause of the unrest, trade rumors abound. Obviously, any moves are difficult because of Artest's contract and his being Ron Artest, but let's delve into fantasy here. Here are 10 players who might actually be able to be worked into a deal.
Ha, hah, almost had you thinking I was serious on that one, didn't I?
Obviously the Lakers would love to get in on the 'Melo sweepstakes, but it doesn't seem like they have much chance. The only way they become a player is if every other team completely backs off, and the Nuggets become so desperate to get something, anything in return for their unhappy superstar that they become willing to take an unhappy less-than-superstar in exchange.
But Artest's deal has three years and $21.8 million left, which complicates things. Still, they did rip off the Grizzlies a few years back for Pau Gasol ...
Thomas was the fourth overall pick in 2006, and has shown tremendous athleticism and upside at times, but has failed to show much consistency.
While he's still just 24 years old, the Bobcats might be ready to give up on his potential, as he's had enough time to show improvement. He's started just one game this year for Charlotte, and has significant salary obligations remaining which might make him a good fit in a deal for Artest.
Thomas might be useful to a Ron-less Laker team, by bringing some energy off the bench.
Scola has been one of the Rockets' most consistent players this season, averaging 19.4 points and 8.5 rebounds while starting every game.
At the same time, he'll be 30 by the end of the year, and his contract is even longer and more unwieldy than Artest's. The injury riddled Rockets are languishing in last place, and with Yao Ming's future in serious doubt, it might be time to enter full-on rebuilding mode. Moving Scola would save Houston a lot of money down the line, even if it meant taking on Ron-Ron.
Plus, Artest might be welcomed back by the Houston faithful, many of whom are still upset over him leaving in the first place.
The Orlando Magic are the only team in the league whose payroll approaches the Lakers. The Lakers still beat 'em, but not by much ($91 million to $89 million). That makes them good potential trading partners.
Turkoglu's career is in a similar place as Artest's. They're both in their early 30's, starting what looks to be a gradual, but inevitable, decline. Plus, Turkoglu is scheduled to make $35 million over the next three years.
The Lakers have had good success with European imports of late (Pau Gasol, anyone?), and Artest would get to still be on a contending team.
Maggette has played his entire career so far with a similar rap to the one Artest had early on.
He's talented, but considered somewhat selfish, and has yet to truly help a team win, spending his career with the Clippers and the Warriors, two of the second-tier Western Conference clubs. Traded to the Bucks this year, his playing time and effectiveness have trailed off, and he might be helped by another change in scenery.
Plus, the money might work, as he is due more than $10 million each of the next two seasons, a key factor in any potential Artest swap. He could still provide L.A. with a strong scoring punch off the bench.
Marvin Williams has been a disappointment since being drafted second overall in 2005.
He's never really reached his true potential, and his numbers have been declining since 2008. He's also seen his role in Atlanta's offense gradually decrease, and they'd probably be happy at this point to find a taker for the approximately $8 million he's owed each of the next three seasons.
Perhaps he's another player though who just needs a change of scenery to thrive. In the proven Lakers' system, Williams could be an everyman similar to Lamar Odom. Meanwhile, Artest would provide the toughness that Atlanta has been lacking in recent years that could help them break the glass ceiling that's been holding them back.
Biedrins quietly looked like he might be one of the best young big men in the game a few years back, averaging a double-double for the Warriors.
Recently, however, injuries have hampered his play, and he seems to have faded out of the nucleus of Golden State's plans just a bit. He's also due $9 million in each of the next three years.
The always rebuilding Warriors would appreciate Artest's star power and defensive intensity, something the run-and-gun team has sorely needed. The Lakers, meanwhile, would appreciate Biedrins' big body taking some pressure off of Gasol and providing insurance for the ever-injured Andrew Bynum.
I mentioned Thabeet in a piece I wrote last week on possible trade options for the Miami Heat. File this, then, under 'what's good for the goose is good for the gander'.
Thabeet has all but disappeared in Memphis, playing just eight minutes per game and not gelling with the Grizzlies' coaching staff. He's still young, but he's also still very raw, and he doesn't really seem to be in the Grizz' plans moving forward.
If anyone can extract his potential, though, it's the Lakers, and he could provide interior toughness and defense kind of like a poor-man's Adris Biedrins.
Hamilton has already been prominently mentioned in recent weeks among those likely to be on the move before the February 24th trade deadline.
He was one of the key pieces rumored to be going to the Nets in the blockbuster Carmelo Anthony trade before it fell apart. Now that that deal is no more, Detroit might look to shop him elsewhere. He's due $25 million over the next two years, and the rebuilding Pistons are looking to move on.
Hamilton's scoring punch might be rejuvenated in a reduced role in L.A. Artest in Detroit though? Bad memories might stand in the way of that move more than salaries or anything else.
The Lakers are known to covet Hinrich's steady ability to run an offense. Washington is 13-35 and nowhere near contention, and doesn't have much reason to hold on to a 30 year-old point guard with John Wall clearly their playmaker of the future.
This is one potential move where the salaries don't match up as much, as Hinrich has just one more year remaining on his contract at $8 million, but the Lakers front office will look to make this work if they at all feel like they can.
He's no spring chicken, but he's six years younger than Derek Fisher, and can spell him for significant stretches so they're both fresher come playoff time. And Artest can demand another trade and go somewhere else over the summer.