Two summers ago, Mitch Kupchak had a decision: Trevor Ariza or Ron Artest. Both could bring what the Lakers truly needed (tough perimeter defense from the 3 position), but they were different players. Artest was seen as the better overall player, but Ariza seemed to be a young Ron Artest—plus, he came without all the… baggage… that Artest is known to bring with him from locker-room to locker-room.
In the end, the Lakers ended up inking the older Ron Artest for $33 million over five years. It was certainly a risky move, but who was one to trifle with Mitch Kupchak’s decision making? In the end, it proved to be a masterstroke: Ron Artest drove the stake through the Celtics’ black hearts in June to clench his first NBA title. (Give me a moment while I relive the moment. Ah…. that felt good).
Ron’s play was certainly sporadic last year. This year, many people (read: me) predicated Artest would be able to find his niche within the offense. It hasn’t gone as smoothly as predicted, to put it modestly. But, the Lakers put all their chips into Ron Artest’s corner. They’re bound to their horse for the duration of the trip.
The Lakers aren’t getting Melo. I can’t lie: there were about three hours after I heard the news where I did my best Kobe Bryant “WELL SHIP HIS ASS OUT THEN” impression. The more I thought about it, though: the Lakers don’t want Melo. They leaked the talks simply to kick Andrew Bynum in the backside. (And Bynum responded like a professional last night on that hideously patterned floor in Boston).