Like It or Not, the Lakers Wagon Is Hitched to Ron Artest

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).

Next: Lakers Have to Weather the Artest Storm

Comical for sure.

Ron Artest on the right team, playing in the proper system for his skills would still be a dangerous player. Not a dominating player but certainly dangerous. The fact that the most physical small forward in the NBA is relegated to hanging-out outside the 3-pt arc (rather than posting-up on smaller, less tough players) waiting for Kobe to throw him a bone is a joke. But, that’s his role in the triangle. Bottom line is he wont get the touches he’s accustomed to throughout his career.

  • I don’t think playing a role on a championship team is comical at all. Ron signed up for this voluntarily and was aware of reduced role on this team. He might be relegated to a spot up shooter on the offensive end but he is the main perimeter defender for this team on the defensive end which is a vital part of this team. He already owns Kevin Durant and handcuffed Paul Pierce in last year’s finals. All he needs to do is continue playing that same role and he’s done this job.

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