Lakers With Artest Could be Great or Terrible

The Los Angeles Lakers are only a few months past this most recent NBA championship. Of Course they took the title for a fourth time in the last decade and did so by way of a Hall of Fame coach and arguably the best 2-guard in the league.

However the Lakers had other key players that more than contributed to their 2008-2009 title. Pao Gasol did major work for them in the post while Lamar Odom provided the versatility that all teams desire from a power-forward. Lets not forget Trevor Ariza who was an amazing defensive stopper for L.A. and who came up with a few big time steals in the playoffs to seal victories for the team.ron-artest-lead

So the question begs if the Lakers had such a great chemistry on their team and perfect fit players at every position, why did they let Ariza go and bring in Ron Artest? Of course Artest may be an upgrade on the court but Ariza for this specific team is more valuable. You don’t have to worry about Trevor causing problems off the court, in the locker room, or with the media. With Artest you definitely do. Ariza also made all the plays you would have wanted him to make without taking away from Kobe’s brilliance.

Here is why Artest is probably the worst off-season acquisition the Lakers could have made. Bringing in a fellow all-star who desires and expects attention and setting him next to Kobe is simply a bad idea. It was different bringing in Gasol who is humble and isn’t a media whore. But Artest is going to want interviews and the spot light and photographs and I bet he will do what is necessary to make sure he gets all of that.

Championship caliber teams are always about chemistry and not simply about talent. Remember when the Lakers had Shaq, Kobe, Malone, and Payton all on the same starting roster. That did not work out for them. Surprising as it is you need a balance of players that compliment each other and that are not just individually talented.  The lakers had that last year and by getting rid of Ariza for Artest they may have lost it all. It will be exciting to see.

Follow me on Twitter: @DinoGomez.

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Rasheed Wallace chooses Boston Celtics

Rasheed Wallace was one of the leagues best available free agents until this evening when reports surfaced that he has officially chosen Boston as his next location to play. Wallace was considering San Antonio, the Orlando Magic, and the Dallas Mavericks as other possibilities but in the end it looks like he chose Boston in order play alongside Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce. Immediately the discussion on ESPN is whether Wallace will provide the lift the Celtics need to return to an NBA final. My answer is contingent upon whether Cleveland adds any more pieces to their team.Rasheed_Wallpaper_NBA

Right now I would imagine an Eastern Conference final featuring Boston and Cleveland with Boston slightly edging out Lebron and the big Diesel. However if the Cavaliers add anything more, I mean anything more like a better towel boy that keeps the players better hydrated, then it would seem the duo of Shaq and Lebron with solid complimentary players would still be too much for Boston to handle. Lets face it those Boston stars are getting up there in age. Not to say that Shaq isn’t but that is only one player compared to the core starting 4 of Boston. On paper Boston does looks better, on the court Cleveland does. This Celtics line up can be compared to that of the Los Angeles Lakers a few years back when they had 4 future hall of fame players in the starting line up: Kobe, Shaq, Malone, and Payton. That line up also looked amazing on paper but did not on the court. The NBA championship teams of the most recent years tend to be built around a perfect mesh of young talent and clutch veteran play. Big news that Wallace has chosen Boston but still no upgrade for the Celetics. Trevor Ariza would have been a better fit there with the defense that he brings, his youth, and his low-key profile.

General Commotion

Reports surfaced yesterday that Ron Artest is close to signing a deal with the Los Angeles Lakers.  I guess that playoff friction between Kobe and Ron is a thing of the past.  Artest will likely take the starting spot vacated by Trevor Ariza, who is reportedly very close to becoming a Houston Rocket.  The Cavs will now have to look elsewhere to upgrade their backcourt size, as both Artest and Ariza were primary targets.  How this affects Lamar Odom is, as of yet, unclear; details of his negotiations have been sparse.  What is clear though, is that Lamar is seeking a contract in the $10 million a year range.  The Cavs could be looking in that direction, but Lamar’s salary would be more than what the Cavs would’ve likely paid either Artest or Ariza.mmmm grub

Hedo is no longer an option for the Cavs either.  Reports today claim that Hedo in Portland is a done deal. (Portland Dominos Pizza locations get ready.) Terms of the contract are unknown since the league has yet to announce the salary cap for the upcoming season.  Keep tabs on the situation in Portland, where rumors suggest Rudy Fernandez is unhappy with the possibility of diminished playing time.  The minutes were thin at the shooting guard and small forward positions last year, and that’s bound to be exacerbated by the addition of Turkoglu and return of Martell Webster.  Stay tuned.

The Lakers lose an A only to get an A+

10-year veteran Ron Artest is heading to the Los Angeles Lakers, and he will surely be paying some fees for his extra baggage. The move comes after Trevor Ariza, an important part of the Lakers championship run, turned down the team’s multi-year offer. In basically performing a trade without the trade, the two free agents will swap jerseys as Ariza has agreed in principle to a deal with Houston worth $5.8 million for next season, with long term talks on the table. So what does the Artest move mean for the defending champions, and which Artest will they be paying those millions to?

Coming to Hollywood with a shady and checkered past, Artest unfortunately will always be rememkobe_artest_400bered by his participation in the Auburn Hills brawl on November 19, 2004 when he played for the Indiana Pacers. However, I would like to argue that last year with the Rockets was a huge step forward in the maturation process of the forward, who meshed well with his teammates and showed leadership qualities as Houston pushed the Lakers to a game seven in the second round of the playoffs. The Lakers are not only getting the 2004 NBA Defensive Player of the Year who, for his career, has averaged 2.1 steals per game, they are getting the “I have learned from my past mistakes Artest”.

In an interview with ESPN, Artest was asked about why he decided to take less money and play for the Lakers. His response: “I am playing to win; I am not playing for the money anymore”. If you just had a Karl Malone and Gary Payton flashback, you are not alone. However the difference here is that Artest is only 29 and coming off a stellar season. The next big question is what will happen to Lamar Odom? In an ESPN interview, expert NBA Analyst Ric Bucher reported the chances of Odom signing with the Lakers is “good”, stating that the two sides can focus on the contract now that Ariza is out, and that there are limited suitors for Odom around the league. If Odom stays on board, I’m putting my money on the Lakers for a repeat.

An article by David Peterson- our most recent addition to our committee will be found under the writing name: Davepete starting tomorrow

Bron Bron and Artest?

The Cavaliers are stoked.  Not only did they land the giant Saguaro Shaquille O’Neal, but now Lebron is working his star power in an attempt to convince Mr. Ron Artest to join them in Cleveland.  Signing a guy like Artest would be huge, making them the unequivocal favorites to win the east, even if the Celtics are healthy.  Also, it’s rumored Trevor Ariza’s representation is making him available to the rest of the league.  It sounds like talks with the Lakers are breaking down and the Cavaliers are possible suitors.  Ariza probably wouldn’t have the immediate impact that Artest would, but he is also much younger and his game has consistently improved since leaving UCLA for the NBA.  Ariza could be a great long-term fit but the Cavs appear unwilling to wait for a title.  In either scenario however, the Cavs will be in great shape.

In other news, Detroit has made the first big moves in the free agent market.  With their seemingly endless cap space they were able to pursue and sign both Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon.  The reported deals have Ben Gordon earning $55 million over 5 years and Villanueva raking in $40 million over 4 years.  Now all they need is a coach.

(Also it’s rumored Rudy Fernandez is pissed about the possible Hedo deal.  Watch it closely, he is reportedly considering heading back to Europe.)

You know that Heinekan commercial where a group of women scream with the sight of their friend’s new walk in closet only to over hear their husbands screaming louder with the sight of a walk in closet filled with beer? Well imagine that with Shaq and Artest joining in. Confused? Watch below.

What does this Lakers Championship really mean?

An article by David Peterson.

I have heard it over a hundred times…”Kobe can’t win a championship without Shaq“. ESPN made sure to tagline this past finals series between the Lakers and Magic as Kobe’s quest for a ring of his own. But can the Lake87746142AB051_LAKERS_NUGGETSrs recent title be watered down to simply acknowledging that Kobe led the re-built Lakers back to the top of the NBA world? I would like to argue otherwise.

There is no doubt that Kobe Bryant was dominating in the playoffs and deserved finals MVP honors. However, without the addition of Trevor Ariza, the stronger play of Lamar Odom, and a healthy Andrew Bynum, the Lakers would have been in the same spot as last year, when they walked out of TD Banknorth Garden with green and white confetti falling to the court. The fact is this: Kobe is Kobe, a dominant, consistent, top 5 player in NBA history. However, he alone cannot win an NBA title. Jordan had Pippen, Rodman, Harper, and Kukoc. Kobe now has Pau Gasol, whom Magic Johnson calls “the second best skinny big man in the NBA behind Kevin Garnett“, as well as Trevor Ariza, who is the most athletic player on the team and who came up with some of the biggest steals in playoff history. Throw in strong play from Lamar Odom and an emerging star in Andrew Bynum, and you have a team with no visible weakness or flaws.

This Lakers team, and this championship season, is much more than Kobe getting the Shaq monkey off his back, it’s the beginning of another Lakers dynasty. This team is built to win two more titles within the next three years. Now it’s just up to Mitch Kupchak to keep the team together and Phil Jackson to somehow find another finger for his next ring. Parting words of wisdom: WARNING-don’t ever leave Fisher open for a crucial 3, you will get burned!

Some Thoughts

The finals are over and the Yankees are champions!  Excuse me, I mean the Lakers.  Kobe deserves props.  Hopefully now he can stop scowling and relax that painful underbite.  Moving on.

It’s the offseason!  Only two and half months of boredom.  (Unless you’re a Padres fan, in which case it’s two and half months of agony.)  Then football season starts, and before any of us know it, basketball will be here again.  Until then, it’s time to address the draft, rumor mill, and all the other off-season activities.

ShaqtusAs Mr. Gomez pointed out, ESPN is reporting that talks have begun between the Suns and Cavaliers regarding the big saguaro, the Shaqtus himself, Shaquille O’Neal.  As currently constructed, the rumors suggest that Ben Wallace, and Sasha Pavolovic would be exchanged for Shaquille “the big aristotle” O’Neal.  The Suns would be freed of their largest contract; while the Cavaliers would immediately bolster their inside presence.  Adding to the intrigue, Ben Wallace mentioned retirement after the Cavs elimination from the playoffs.  It’s a chance for the Suns to save even more money, with a potential buyout.  In all reality the Suns’ interest is purely financial.  Shaq is 37 and can’t be good for more than one or two more solid years.  The Cavs obviously feel they are close but can Shaq physically hold up?  If he is the revitalized player we saw this past year then the Cavs will be sitting pretty.

In other news, free-agent talk is heating up.  Lamar Odom and Trevor Ariza are both free-agents and will likely seek big contracts, meaning the NBA Champs may be forced to choose between the two.  Hedo Turkoglu’s representation said they would test the waters.  Ben Gordon is a free agent, as is Ron Artest.  A couple other notables: Shawn Marion and Allen Iverson.

I’ll take a look at the draft soon, but that’s all for now.