The Lakers Will Get the Absolute Most Out of Ron Artest

travis proctorCorrespondent IJuly 9, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 06:  Ron Artest #96 of the Houston Rockets looks on against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 6, 2009 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 Harry How/Getty Images)

All the pieces are in the right place for the Lakers to get the best out of Ron Artest.

Ron Artest took a pay cut to come to L.A. for one reason—he knows this is his best chance to get a ring. In an interview with ESPN—after it was announced he would be signing with the Lakers—Artest was asked why he took the pay cut and Artest simply said, "I have already made money; I'm done playing for money, now I'm playing just to win."

Hearing those words from any NBA player is extremely refreshing. Artest brings an undeniable toughness to the Lakers. For the past two seasons we have heard nothing but how soft the Lakers are and how they need to be tougher on D.

I challenge anyone to call Artest soft.

While losing Trevor Ariza is disappointing for all Lakers fans, because he was popular and he was instrumental in winning that championship, Artest will be welcomed in with open arms.

A lot has been made of Artest's personality and how volatile it can be. Many people seem to forget you need personality to play for the Lakers. It's L.A., and Artest fits in perfectly with that persona.

Many people are skeptical about Artest and Kobe playing together and getting along. Personally, I think this is being overblown. Yes, they both have dominant personalities, but both share one common goal, the desire to win. Aside from Kevin Garnett, I think these two want to win more than anyone else in the NBA. Now that doesn't mean the other players don't want it really bad, I just think Kobe, Artest, and Garnett are in another class when it comes to determination.

If there is one player in the NBA Artest will listen to, it has to be Kobe.

We have seen the two feud before, but who doesn't feud when they are on opposite sides? During the 2009 Finals we even saw Kobe and Dwight Howard get into it and those two were great teammates on Team USA.

Artest has always wanted to be a Laker and he hasn't been shy about saying so. Phil Jackson is the perfect coach for Artest because he is completely opposite of him. Artest has never had a coach like Jackson—indeed, not many players have had a coach who has won 10 NBA Championships—but Artest respects Jackson and will listen to him. Artest respects winning, and Artest wants to win.

The one factor that is being overlooked here is Artest's relationship with Lamar Odom. The two grew up together in New York and have been friends for a long time. No, Odom hasn't been re-signed yet, but that will come soon.

Artest knows this is by far the best chance he has had at winning not one, but multiple championships. While a lot of other teams have got better this offseason, it is hard to say the Lakers still aren't the favorite next season with Artest in the starting lineup.

The big difference between Artest and Ariza is that while Artest can do everything Ariza can do, Ariza can't do everything Artest can do. Artest is bigger, stronger and by far more intimidating. Artest has just as good if not a better outside shot, and has the ability to let Kobe rest without the Lakers losing a step on the offensive end.

Ariza is more athletic and younger, but those factors won’t be come into play near as much this year because you will see him struggle in Houston.

While it is hard to just automatically say this move will for sure make the Lakers better, I think it's safe to say this will not make them worse.

This next NBA season will be one of the best years we have ever seen. Both conferences will be extremely competitive and it will be a lot of fun to watch. For now I think I speak for all Lakers fans when I say "WELCOME TO L.A. RON ARTEST, WE HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR YOU."


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