The trade deadline has now come and gone this season, and I think we can all agree that it was one of the most exciting deadlines in recent memory for the NBA. Marquee players like Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams were given a new address, Boston shook up their big man situation by dealing Kendrick Perkins, while Oklahoma decided to beef up while dishing out forward Jeff Green.
I haven't even listed every deadline deal yet, but I can tell you that there's one deal that didn't go down that everyone is still thinking about.
Why did the Lakers not deal Ron Artest?
Let's briefly review the faults of Ron on a nightly basis. Firstly, it's true that his shooting numbers are pretty scary this year, and not in a good way. His points are at an all time low at 8.2ppg, but on a team like the Lakers, did you really recruit him to score? His field goal percentage is also at a new low at 40.6 percent, but his three-point percentage remains in tact at 37 percent. Shooting aside, Ron also has a tendency to make bad decisions while in possession on the ball, especially on the fast break. You so desperately want him to make the pass after one of his huge steals, because if he doesn't he's going to be either blocked by the rim, or a player.
After what I have mentioned above, and the fact that Ron does run out of crazy pills from time to time, the fact still remains that the Lakers were smart in keeping Ron Artest around. But why would I defend keeping a player who is shooting poorly, can't handle the ball to save his life, and could self-destruct quicker than a California earthquake?
I can do this because with all of his faults, Ron Artest loves the game of basketball, and he was instrumental in the Lakers repeating in 2010.
When you first talk about what Ron does well for the Lakers (or could do for any team) your mind immediately goes to his ability to steal the basketball and create extra possessions. Ron Artest has the perfect combination to be a great ball thief in this league because he has extremely active hands, and seems to have a nose for the ball. Ron is the type of pest that will steal it from you if you're Paul Pierce or Tony Allen. He doesn't discriminate, and many of his steals were pivotal in the Lakers quest for back to back championships.
The second thing you gain by keeping Ron Ron around is a depth of toughness for the Los Angeles based squad. Once labeled "soft" (and rightfully so), the Los Angeles Lakers stand today with a wealth of tough players to play hard nosed ball with the NBA's fiercest opponents. They have Matt Barnes, Kobe Bryant, a more resilient Pau Gasol, and are spear headed by Ron Artest. This toughness factor is one thing that should not be overlooked. It's just that peskiness that allowed Ron to disrupt Kevin Durant's offensive game in the close series last year (and the game last night). With Ron on the squad, the Lakers officially have the equipment to bang around when the other playoff hopefuls decide to push them around.
Why would they give that away?
And the third and final reason the Lakers did the right thing by keeping Ron Artest around, is you just don't fix what isn't broken. I realize this may not have been what happened with Ariza, but I find that to be more of the exception than the rule. The facts are these; Ron is shooting poorly, dribbling worse, and making questionable decisions in the regular season.
He did that last year, and look how it turned out for the Lakers. When the playoffs began, he kicked his game into gear and never looked back. He locked down superstar Kevin Durant in the Thunder series, created pivotal steals and possessions throughout, and capped it all off by nailing the coffin shut on Boston with a "don't shoot that!" three pointer.
I'm not saying Ron can keep this up forever, as no basketball player can. But you have to take a look at both seasons that Ron has been with the Lakers and ask;
"Don't these look similar?"
The last fact is that the Lakers could have very well dealt Ron, but there is no way they could have gotten back what Ron brings for them to the table when it really matters. The fact is that LA needs the steals, they need that toughness factor, they need the Kevin Durant's of the world kept quiet, and on some days, they just need him to be crazy.
Good show by not cracking LA, but the results can go either way.