NBA Rumors: Ron Artest Playing in Finland Would Be Great for L.A. Lakers

Andy BaileyFeatured ColumnistJune 28, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 20:  Ron Artest #15 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots a free throw while taking on the New Orleans Hornets in Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 20, 2011 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

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.