NBA Rumors: Ron Artest Playing in Finland Would Be Great for L.A. Lakers
UPDATE: According to Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk.com, Artest's agent has said that his client will not be playing in Finland:
“I’m his agent and nothing has come across my desk,” Bauman said. “Although Ron has asked me to explore all options over in Europe in the event of a prolonged lockout, there are several legal and business considerations that have to be addressed. The biggest one involves insurance. None of those have been addressed and I don’t even know who this guy claiming to have an agreement is. Final thing is what if the league has a lockout for say two weeks and then end up getting a deal. It becomes a moot point.”
“The whole notion strikes me as a publicity stunt,” Bauman said. “Nothing has come across my desk. Ron has asked me to look into options in Europe, but certainly not with a small team in Finland.”
Los Angeles Lakers forward Ron Artest has certainly displayed his fair share of crazy over the course of his career.
From brawling with fans in Detroit, to producing records, to "Tru Warrior" haircuts, to incredible championship speeches, to renaming himself "Metta World Peace," this guy has provided more entertainment than any fans could have ever asked for.
However, over the last couple years, his play on the court has been rapidly degenerating into something beyond a liability for the Lakers. The team actually looked much better in the one game he missed due to suspension during the Western Conference Semifinals against the Dallas Mavericks.
He used to be able to score at a decent rate, but the reason he was a rare asset was always his defense. At one point, he may have been the best perimeter defender in the league. He even won the Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2004. At this point, he no longer brings that to the table either.
So if I were a Lakers executive or coach, I'd actually be excited by the news reported by ESPN TrueHoop affiliate Ball in Europe. They're saying that Artest will join LoKoKo Loimaa of Finland's top league this September.
A buyout would have to be reached to make the deal official, so this is obviously just a rumor at this point.
If it turns out to be true, we could certainly be in for some more entertaining antics from Artest as he tries to work things out with the Lakers in an effort to bolt to Europe.
It's just sad for his team that this story didn't break before the draft. They could have used one of their second-round draft picks on a high-risk, high-reward small forward.
Whatever ends up happening, I anticipate Metta World Peace jerseys to sell like hotcakes (whether they're purple and gold or covered by sponsors FIBA style).
You can follow Andy Bailey on Twitter @_Andy_Bailey
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