Free Agent Feeding Frenzy

Kurt —  June 30, 2009

Hornets vs. Lakers
The chum has been in the waters for days and as of the stroke of Wednesday (or, 9 p.m. out here on the West Coast) the free agent feeding frenzy begins.

Like an actual feeding frenzy, the water is murky, there are sharks everywhere trying to get their piece, it’s really hard to tell who is doing what and what is actually happening. Rumors and reports will be flying around for the next week, many of them false as agents and teams try to game the system and gain leverage.

Through it all, the Lakers goals are really clear: Sign Trevor Ariza, Lamar Odom and Shannon Brown. My gut read on the market — the Lakers shouldn’t have much trouble getting Brown and Odom back at a price management is comfortable with, while there is some demand for their services it is not out of line with what the Lakers would be willing to pay. Ariza, to me, is the one guy who could get a crazy offer.

But that’s my gut. Here’s what we know (and check back for updates) at the bottom:

• Kobe Bryant has chosen not opt out. It amuses me to read the occasional headline on this saying “Kobe chooses to stay with Lakers” as if that was actually in doubt. This was about business.

What this means is that he will save the Lakers no money next year. His two options are to sign an extension of the existing deal or he can opt out next summer, then re-sign a new Max deal. Rather than me explain it, read Larry Coon’s excellent primer. The bottom line is this — with an opt out next summer he makes about $135 million over five years, with an extension it is $127 million. That $8 million would be doubled by the luxury tax making it a nice savings for the Lakers, but only over the lasts few years of that deal. No money will be saved this year or next.

For the record, I know there are those that think Kobe should take less money for the good of the franchise. I’m not one of them. The money he is paid is but a small share of the money he makes this team because it is Kobe that fills the seats, sells the jerseys, gets people to watch on television. Right now he is the Lakers, and he is making the Buss family a lot of money. He deserves every penny he gets.

• For all the buzz of the free agent market, there seems to be a few teams taking on salary — ones in title contention — and ones shedding it due to the economy. It will be a rich get richer summer. The question is how rich they get in comparison to the current World Champs.



401 responses to Free Agent Feeding Frenzy

  1. I agree that Kobe deserves every dollar he makes. He is making his employer very rich.

    That said, the NBA is part business and part game (because of the salary cap).

    The “game” of it all is that you can’t make business decisions like: “Pay Kobe, Ariza, Odom, and Brown what it takes to keep winning. We think we will continue to be profitable even in that arrangement.”

    I think Kobe deserves every dollar he can get, but I also think, if it would help the team stay together AND reload (because let’s face it, everyone else is loading up), Kobe should ask how he can help the team play the salary cap game.

    There is no evidence that he did or dod not do that. The Lakers very well may have said, “Look Kobe, there’s really nothing you can do here that would make a difference.”

    We have no idea. We can only speculate. I am certainly no expert on the cap or the tax and will not pretend to be.

  2. The whole Ariza discussion is stressing me to the point that weird free agent scenarios are popping into my head. After reading that Houston is thinking about making an offer to now unrestricted Oberto, why not go the full distance and add FA’s Walter Herrmann and Carlos Delfino. Then trading Artest for Ginobili and trotting out the Argentinian national team as their starters.

    (Just a joke, in case some don’t get it. Would be amazing though, just like one team collecting alle the Spaniards – except Pau of course.)

  3. Despite his agent’s public statements, it still makes the most sense for Ariza to return to the Lakers.

    The Cavs can’t offer more money and his PT would be uncertain, given the fact that he plays the same position as LBJ.

    Random comment…New nickname for Shaq: The Big Coattail

  4. If Ariza leaves, the Lakers simply need a defensive minded 3 with the ability to catch and shoot the 3. Artest fits the skillset, but the Lakers under Phil’s second regime have always emphasized character in addition to skill. I personally have mixed feelings on Artest, but generally couldn’t see Mitch going there.

    There are lots of options in the worst case, and Mitch probably has some no one here has even thought of. I’m not worried, repeating with everyone back is no guarantee anyway.

    Personally, I’d love to see the Cavs land Artest so we can see a truly disfunctional team.

  5. The whole Artest character thing has been well hashed out here. It’s not practical and won’t happen.

    But the basketball fan in me would be really curious to see what happens with Artest under Phil. All the skills are there, and Artest could handle being second banana to Kobe. Really, after the job Phil did with Rodman, nothing would surprise me about Phil reclaiming any nutball in the league.

    Artest under a coach that he doesn’t respect will be trouble, which is what Cleveland is asking for if they get him.

  6. Ariza isn’t leaving. If he were actually that disrespected by the negotiations as his agents would like the public to believe, then it wouldn’t be an issue. He would announce he found a better deal and that he’s leaving. He is merely trying to get a better offer form LA, *because* he wants to be here. Cleveland is the #1 place to say he’ll go, because that would put major pressure to re-sigh him. So, they’ll use Chris Broussard (what’s new).

    Just look at how everyone here is on a tizzy.

    Nothing but negotiations, like LO’s agent putting out that SA and PHX are interested in him at $10 mill per. Yeah right.

  7. How much game does Bruce Bowen have left?

  8. Not to stoke fires, but more for the sake of levity, if on some off chance the Lakers were to sign Artest, could we form a petition to get Rasheed Wallace too. That way he, Ron-Ron and Kobe could form some sort of Super Technical Foul Trio.

  9. Mike in the Mountain West July 2, 2009 at 9:54 am

    It would be great to get Ariza back because he fits so well and knows the system but if he doesn’t return I think we would be better off targeting a PG that can do more to defend the quick PG’s that give us so much trouble.

    That is the team’s biggest weakness, even without Ariza in the lineup. We have a great wing defender in Kobe and Sacha isn’t bad either, plus our SSZ helps too. With Gasol, Bynum’s maturation (he played great in almost every regular season game even after returning at the end of the year), and help from Odom, Kobe doesn’t need to carry the team on offense and can devote more energy to wing defense.

    But we don’t have any way to successful defend PG’s at the top of the key driving or executing the P&R. Our already great defense would jump up another notch with an improvement at PG.

  10. Sasha defending a James, Pierce, Carter, Ginobli, etc. instead of Ariza…is a frightening thought.

  11. Excellent link to AK’S blog at LA Times. The history of David Lee is one to make the Lakers look like they are lowballing their player and that they have no problem walking away.

    Kupchak has stated from the final day of the regular season that the Lakers’s stance is to look at what the market rate is for the following players and then make an offer. Like many have said before they don’t want to be outbidding themselves.

    We know that there are two teams that will still have funds to give a ridiculous offer to Ariza, but does Ariza really think he will have a chance to thrive in Portland where there is a real logjam at the 2/3 positions? Can he accept the role Toronto gives and the outcome of rough seasons?

    I would assume yes, because this is Ariza’s first real payday and he has become a journeyman across the NBA and has finally tapped into some of his potential (with hard work and an excellent attitude, see letting others start) and craves to get paid for it.

    Ultimately, the Lakers threw out a low figure to see what the other teams in the league would respond. If other teams would throw out $9 M/yr figures I don’t see how the Lakers respond to that. However, if teams are throwing out $8 M/yr figures, I have no reason to suspect that the Lakers would increase their ante to $7 M/yr. That is just how negotiations and reading the value on the market.

    Now if I’m Ariza, would I sacrifice $1 M dollars a year to play for a crappy team, or to stay with the team that has a chance to be a dynasty? That is going to be the question. With all the factors of him being a hometown product etc. etc. I don’t see him leaving unless a team gift wraps a REDONKULOUS offer, and if Ariza gets it the businessman in me says Ariza would be a fool NOT to take it, but obviously the Lakers fan in me would slide that piece of paper across the table and say, he’s always been a Laker.

  12. 310-The way Pop let him rot on the bench in crucial games tells me that Bruce is done. Even in the ’08 playoffs Kobe abused him

  13. To all the true Laker fans (i.e. those that are willing to pay anything for Trevor),

    I wanted to thank you for the uproar you’re creating about re-signing Trevor. While I don’t except Mitch to follow the perfectly rationale suggestions of all you more experienced GMs masquerading as fans, one can always hope that he comes to his senses and learns how to negotiate, which means immediately offering Trevor a max contract when there is no competing offer on the table or even a discussion with another team.

    As for Kobe taking a paycut, I think that’s another example of why you are smarter than Mitch. You should always underpay your best performers and overpay the role players. After all, in the post-Shaq era, Kobe hasn’t been to the Finals or won without Trevor. Hmmm. Come to think of it, Kobe also hasn’t won any of his championships without Rudy Garciduenas as equipment manager. Note to self: contact Rudy about representation – max contract coming, baby!

    Of course, if Kobe were my client (damn you, Pelinka), then asking him to take a pay cut would be craziest idea this side of wishing Mike Dunleavy was the Lakers GM. Actually, I wish Dunleavy was the Lakers GM, because these discussions would be over faster than you could say Chris Kaman.

    So kept those Mitch and Dr. Buss rants coming, because the economy is tough and every little bit helps me earn more fees…er…helps bring Trevor back to the only team he ever wanted to play for (except any team willing to pay him more money.)


    D Lee

  14. j.d. Hastings July 2, 2009 at 11:11 am

    Looking closer at the Detroit signings, is it just me or does it only really make sense if Dumars and co consciously decided to become a run and gun D’Antoni/Colangelo type team? They needed to shore up their front court, while they were set in back court scoring, but instead flipped they ratio of money you’d expect them to spend (you’d expect to spend the 11 mil/year on the front court and 7/year in the backcourt). It’s not like this was an accident, either. The Gordon signing was rumored for weeks (and also implies they were illegally tampering)- they were dead set on signing him. The Charlie V choice was more of a compromise since Hedo wanted too much $.

    So maybe what seems nonsensical in terms of what we expect of Detroit is just a 180 shift in philosophy. Get out, run and drop points on people in lieu of defense. That could also explain why they fire a coach who didn’t really have a chance to do anything with team in a rebuilding phase- they want to find someone who will play to the style they’re looking at. A style that may put more butts in the seats than defense, even if it wins fewer games…

    Or am I giving too much credit here? The names of coaches I’ve heard thrown out there (Avery or Doug Collins) aren’t exactly the run and gun types. If they build a team for one style then hire the opposite type of coach, I’m giving up.

  15. The whole “Kobe should take less” thing – It’s not like he’s the only guy getting paid big $$$. Gasol is around $16 and Bynum is at $12, Odom will be close to $10. But of course, the media will love to poke fingers at Kobe, seeing what drama they can stir up. You have to look at it as Kobe will only make money for so long as a career has an expiration date. Jerry Buss practically has an indestructible commodity – a cash cow. For Buss to take a decrease in net profits for one or three years is a much easier hit than for Kobe to take a pay cut when his professional income will probably expire within the next ten years. Granted, Kobe will be making some money after he retires, but nothing near while still playing (endorsements won’t be like what Jordan’s got set up). Kobe busts his $#& and plays through injury after injury. Why shouldn’t he get every penny he can in a structured labor union? And doesn’t Buss net in a normal economy like at least $40 mil or something? I just think it is more on Buss, even though he has to pay double, to take the hit.

  16. j.d. Hastings July 2, 2009 at 11:25 am

    Seriously, I don’t get the passion people feel for Artest here. Its kind of like those otherwise sane women who fall in love with imprisoned serial killers.

  17. JD, you may be on to something. Also, Charlie V (his new alias) has got the capability to stretch the floor playing the 4 spot. The only thing is they need a center to actually be in the mix. If they can swing a deal that nets them a guy like Gortat or something, with Gordon and Maxiell first off the bench, I’d say Dumars had a great off season. But if they’re starting Kwame next year, tsk tsk..

  18. Bottom line is. I’d rather have artest over ariza. If you would rather have ariza, than you dont know too much about basketball. Team chemistry will fall in place because we have the best coach in basketball history. Do you really think the lakers will stop playing the triangle because artest is on the team? or he will just launch 3 pointers for no reason? Artest shot bad against us in the playoffs because we played good defense on him and they really didnt have any offensive firepower. They won the games because of their defense and artest was a big part of that. Dont be dillusional, artest is a better player than ariza. If we play the cavs, who will guard lebron in the post?
    Ariza is a great defender but he is pretty weak in the post. We would just get a different type of defender in artest.

  19. 318

    I have no idea what Dumars’ latest plan is, but the saving grace of the debacle that was the AI trade was supposed to be the cap room that would be available this summer. Now you tell me, does using all that money on Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva sound like it was worth the trouble? They still need a replacement for Wallace at center, and I’m not convinced that the team they have is good enough offensively to be a great run-and-gun team.

    Frankly, I think Dumars was too hasty. He should have at least explored the trade market for a bit before committing to Gordon and Villanueva.

  20. 320- Sufian
    Lebron’s post up game is his weakest link. Ariza plays Lebron fairly well. In fact, he would probably do a better job of staying in front of Lebron on the perimeter. You’re right that Artest is a better player but I think Ariza fits the defense and the triangle offense better than Artest.

    Not to mention the fact that Ariza already knows the offense and his role. He knows and accepts the fact that he may only get 3 shots a night. If we can’t sign Trevor then by all means grab Artest as quickly as possible, but don’t tell all of us that we don’t know anything about basketball because obviously Kupchak and Buss will take Ariza first as well if the price is right.

  21. 322, team chemistry doesn’t just fall into place, the 2004 Lakers are a very prime example of this. As we’ve seen with Kobe, it is very easy to get away from the triangle if we over-dribble or take quick shots; these are what Artest loves the most. Yes, he will jack up threes for no reason; if you re-watch the playoff series, you’ll see he took a number of ridiculous threes in all 7 games, he just happened to make them in games 1-3 and miss them in 4-7. We didn’t play good defense against Artest; whenever he bull-rushed his way to the hoop, he got there. As you said, Ariza is not very strong, and he couldn’t contain Artest when Artest drove to the hoop. Luckily for us, Artest has a one-sided love affair with three pointers. And just because Artest is a better player than Ariza, doesn’t mean he’s a better fit on our team. I think we can all agree that Allen Iverson is a better player than Derek Fisher, but do you think he would be a better fit for our team?

    And Lebron doesn’t play in the post, so we don’t have to worry about that. But if you mean strength-wise, I don’t think anyone in the league can stop Lebron. The only way to contain him is with ball-denial, and Kobe showed us exactly how to do that in January.

  22. Book Review up. Feel free to continue your discussions here…

  23. A few posts here have mentioned Sasha as a solid defender. Let me say that if this thought EVER crosses your mind, you officially know nothing about basketball and should be banned from posting on this and all other sites.

    Sasha’s only defensive skill is getting opponents into the penalty in record time to start the 2nd and 4th quarters. If someone keeps stats on this sort of thing I’d be very interested to see if anyone in the league commits more penalties 25′ from the basket.

  24. mikeinchitown July 2, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    Looks like TOR is likely out of the Turkish Jordan bidding war, which ensures that POR is going to land him. So now no other team will be able to snatch TA from the Lakers with a big blowout offer.

    Mitch, cut to chase, top up the MLE a bit and be done with it. DLee, you have no leverage, take the deal and stop trying to ruin people’s 4th weekend.

  25. I usually lurk and this silly season really doesn’t motivate me to comment a whole lot. But when I see a quote like what #320 Sufian says

    “Bottom line is. I’d rather have artest over ariza. If you would rather have ariza, than you dont know too much about basketball”

    Wow, I guess Kurt and Darius know nothing about basketball. I have a ton of respect for their basketball knowledge.

  26. I think it’s hilarious that Ariza’s agent, Lee, is acting like the Lakers are disrespecting Ariza by offering him the same deal that every other team will be able to offer (with a couple exceptions).If Portland or Detroit–oops, scratch them–offers him more, he should definitely take it. But, in this free agent class, I think Portland would be overpaying.

    He could continue to grow–who knows. If Im Portland, I’d consider it. But Mitch is absolutely right not to offer more. If the Lakers want to pony up and spend–as many fans have been urging them to–why not offer Turk the money. Oh, yeah, they can’t. See how this works?

    Seriously, if Lee is going to convince Ariza to leave for the same money elsewhere because the Lakers disrespected him, I will boo his a** every time I see him. Hey Lee, who should be thanking whom? As I recall, Mitch plucked him from total obscurity and made him the starting 3 for a championship team. At that time, I had never heard of him. What sort of contract would he be looking at if he was still on the Magic?

  27. “Team chemistry will fall in place because we have the best coach in basketball history.”

    See 2003/04.

    “Do you really think the lakers will stop playing the triangle because artest is on the team?”

    It happens a lot already and he isn’t even on the team.

    “or he will just launch 3 pointers for no reason?”

    That’s like asking if Shaq will miss free throws. (Although to give Artest his due, he has become a decent shooter from beyond the arc when his feet are set. If only he’d stick to taking those shots.)

    “Dont be dillusional, artest is a better player than ariza.”

    He’s ‘better’ than a lot of players, yet he keeps getting traded. I wonder why that is…

  28. “He’s [Artest] ‘better’ than a lot of players, yet he keeps getting traded. I wonder why that is…”

    You don’t know it? It’s easy to explain:

    GMs, coaches etc “don’t know too much about basketball”.

  29. Tyler, it’s not unreasonable to say Vujacic is a solid defender. By solid, I mean moves his feet, orients his player toward the rights spots in the team concept, can chase down and stay in front of players a fair amount of the time. Just because he isn’t a stopper doesn’t mean he’s Adam Morrison or Nash. He did a solid job in covering Von Wafer. He picks up dumb fouls but at the same time he applies a lot of pressure to ballhandlers.

  30. Consider this a warning shot across the bow:

    Do not come in here and say “if you don’t see X then you don’t know anything about basketball.” To use the Artest example — do you think GMs agree on him? Do you think a discussion of his fit is going on in Lakers front offices and everyone agrees? We debate things here, and we will at least be civil.

  31. For the record, I expect Toronto to make and offer now to Ariza, but Lee will find the number just what the Lakers offered. So he will try to play one off the other, and these are two smart GMs who will not play that game.

  32. The vitriol against Artest is slightly disturbing. I’m totally aware of where it’s coming from, but it’s encroaching a bit too much into an emotional standpoint than an objective one. If Ariza goes (hypothetical, not saying he will), then I’m not sure there’s a better defensive wing on the market we could get. Marion is a nutjob as well, Hill is aging, Kleiza is overrated, and Atlanta would match a midlevel offer to Childress. Obviously, the best situation is to have Ariza back, but Artest would be a better alternative than some of the other wings on the market. If there’s a coach in the league I’d trust to have Artest (try to) play in a system, it’s Phil.

  33. from Ball Don’t Lie

    Bodog’s odds to win the 2009-10 NBA Championship have been reassessed and posted following last week’s NBA Draft and trade activity. Unsurprisingly, the Shaquille O’Neal-to-Cleveland, Vince Carter-to-Orlando and Richard Jefferson-to-San Antonio deals have altered a few of the favorites’ lines.

    Some notes, courtesy of Jimmy Shapiro, comparing the updated odds to ones released June 15th:

    * Cleveland went from 3/1 to 9/4
    * L.A. Lakers fell from 2/1 to 9/4
    * San Antonio sky rocked from 16/1 to 11/1
    * Orlando jumped a bit from 15/2 to 6/1
    * Boston dipped slightly from 9/2 to 5/1

    Interestingly, the Rockets still remain at 15/1 odds despite Yao’s foot scare.

  34. Kurt – thanks for the heads up. If Tor makes and offer and DL starts mouthing off more crap – this blog will go crazy!!! No wonder you hate trade talks.

  35. That’s why we better improve – other contenders have definitely improved their teams – we can’t just stay the same. If TA wants to walk – that might work out best for us – none of us really knows. I just don’t want any more luke walton/sasha contracts. i’d rather the player walk then get stuck with more crappy long term contracts we can’t get rid of. we need flexibility.

  36. Toronto’s dilemma: any long-term contracts would cripple their ability to lure a big-name free-agent and retain bosh, but if they don’t acquire more talent, that could discourage bosh from signing an extension.

  37. If Toronto offers Ariza way more than the MLE, they won’t be able to re-sign Marion, will they? So couldn’t we rent Marion for a year for our MLE? He probably will want money in the supposed Odom range (around 10mil), but there are no suitors at that price for him as well. He would at least be a nice stop-gap.

  38. BCR – How is Shawn Marion a nutjob?

  39. When thinking about Toronto, remember that everything they do this year is in an effort to get Bosh to re-sign.

    So yes, if they let Marion walk they can make a big offer to Ariza. But, would that make Bosh happy?

  40. Re: Artest

    You bring up some good points regarding the risks of signing Artest, but you understate the potential rewards, which are enormous. I am a big fan of Ariza’s game. He seems to have what it takes to improve his game every year, but I cannot ignore the advantages of bringing in Artest.

    Although Kevin Martin is the better offensive player, Artest was the top dog on that Sac team. He will know his place playing with Kobe and Phil. Kobe has stated that he “could put Artest in check” the last time his name came up, and I believe him.

    Every potential threat to the next Laker Dynasty (Denver, Cavs, SA, Orlando, Celtics, Portland) has an elite SF (Carmelo, Lebron, RJeff, Vince, Pierce, Hedo). Who better to guard these guys than Artest? Lebron has come out and said that Artest guards him better than anyone else in the league. I watched Houston play the Cavs this year, and Lebron is telling the truth.

    Yes, Artest takes too many contested threes and makes bad decisions, but he will see more wide open looks than his entire career on this team. His decision making will be less of a factor on this team as well. If Smush can pose as a real NBA player alongside Kobe, what’s Artest going to look like? Even though he has lost a step, he might be just as deadly as he was in Indiana playing on this team.

    He also brings the intimidation factor. We won’t need DFish to respond from getting bullied by punching anyone out ever again because Artest’s mere presence will strike fear into the opponent. This is pure speculation, but I am sure that Pierce, Lebron, Vince, Carmelo, RJeff and Hedo would much rather face the Lakers with Ariza than Artest.

    The entire league will be trembling in their boots if we sign Artest.

  41. Well, Marion probably overvalued himself a little when he complained his way out of Phoenix. I guess the stops in Miami and Toronto might have changed his perspective a little. I can’t recall hearing about him being a distraction on these teams.

    I’m sure he’s not willing to sign a multi year MLE-based contract, but he’s also hopefully clever enough to see where he would fit in the pecking order of a championship team like the Lakers. And at some point the financial reality of this summer’s free agent market will become too obvious to ignore.

  42. The Lakers dilemma: they’re over the luxury limit already with three free agents to sign.

    Solution: make offers to Lamar and Trevor at the MLE, which is the only offer that could be made by most teams.

    Risk: if both Lamar and Trevor sign with another team, they will be limited in what they could offer established remaining free agents to one MLE–which they want to save for an emergency later in the season.

    Player’s dilemma: value may be more than MLE, but market value may be no more than MLE.

    Solution: ask Laker’s for more than MLE and/or seek out offers from other teams.

    Risk: Lakers may re-sign only one above MLE to partially limit luxury tax, saving the MLE for emergencies later in the season.

    Possible Lakers/players compromise: moderate increases above the MLE and/or number of years of contract and/or save higher payments for later years in contract.

  43. So celts are pushing for sheed – if they get him and kg is healty – freek – we better improve our team!! Cannot just stay with this current roster.

  44. If you haven’t seen it, CBS reporting Artest to the Lakers, with the source as Artest. Trying to get confirmation.

  45. The players risk is not as great as ownerships risk as time goes on. If said players present market value is at MLE level, then the only thing in their favor is time. As more players are signed to different teams that ownership thought about as replacements for said players, then the risk is greater for ownership. Now ownership has no plan B, because the talent pool of free agents has diminished. The said players now are in the drivers seat now, knowing you dont have any other options, and if I leave now ownership is screwed. Teams will be continuing to try to dump salary to create cap space, so the longer this drags out the better for the players. This is why players hire agents like D. Lee.

  46. If this is true, I didnt want the LAKERS to have to use their MLE this early because of our point situation. But it seems as if TA and his agent are trying to play prom night virgin. Good luck TA no hard feelings.

  47. I was with you up until “the source as Artest.”

  48. Oh YES!!!! I know there are a lot of ronron haters out there – but for this to happen, Kobe and LO had to talk to him first and buy off on it. RonRon will keep his head together for the ring…he can do it – he’s older (maybe not wiser). Look at Starbury – he’s a total basket case and did ok on the celts. When it comes to winning the ring – he’ll be able to control himself. Yes, I think there might be some bumps in the road – he’ll end up taking some really bad shots at really bad times – but he will more than make up for it with his tough d…especially when our offense isn’t clicking on all cylinders.

    Let’s wait for a real report.

  49. One thing I like about Artest his ability to play 3 positions. Say what you want, he’s very versatile.

  50. It seems that ownership didnt want to take the risk and wait on TA to find out what he wanted to do.

  51. Kurt – you obviously did not want this to happen. If it’s true – what do you think? Can you welcome him to LA or does it just run too deep for you? I’m not being a sarcastic pig – I really admire your well thought out opinions on things.


  53. If I were Trevor Ariza, I’d be reluctant to play for Houston. With Yao being a huge question mark, there’s a chance he won’t enjoy very many open looks. Without Yao, defenses are going to suffocate the perimeter. It’s an unfavorable situation.

  54. LA TIMES is reporting a deal is close 5 yrs/$32 million

  55. Another link on the Artest-thing:

    If nothing else, it will certainly make next season even more interesting.

    I have to admit, I’m a sucker for these deals – whether they make sense or not. Sometimes I actually wish basketball was like soccer and the Lakers could sign people like Real Madrid are doing currently. They already spent upwards 300 million dollars on new players this summer (Kaka, Ronaldo, Albiol, Benzema), and that’s just counting the transfer fees. I know it would probably kill the competition in a sport like basketball (the outcome in soccer is a lot more random due to fewer goals), but imagine the Lakers signing Lebron and CP3 – while still keeping all the guys;)

    But I digress, sorry.

  56. Artest is a talent. Sigh. I just hope it doesn’t blow up in our faces if it turns out to be correct.

  57. What does this mean for LO, is he going to try to play hardball like TA? If he does lets do a sign and trade, got to get somebody for him. No money left to sign outside free agents who match his skill set. Mitch showing his toughness in the trenches. D### I didnt know he had it in him.

  58. gaining artest while losing ariza… if this were to happen, I’ll probably feel the way I did when we gained glen rice while trading away eddie jones. mixed feelings.

    one of many random thoughts: next 5 years worth of playing under kobe’s wings… would it really do more for ron-ron than it would for trevor?

  59. NOOOOOOOO /darth vader

    … ok guys, talk me into this. This is a good move, right?

    btw, this doesn’t actually rule out Trevor coming back as our 7th man. Totally serious. Of course you don’t pay above the MLE for a guard off the bench… unless you’re Joe Dumars.

  60. another random thought: can this possibly mean that they’ll try to match whatever deal trevor gets, and then *gulp* brace for LO leaving?

  61. 364

    Not a chance. If Artest does sign, Ariza is gone.

  62. I see Artest as more of alternative to Ariza than LO, don’t you guys agree? It seems to me like LO is mostly being used at the 4, and that Artest would be playing the 3?

  63. 363. G. Rice was strickly a shooter, Eddie J had that all around game that people rarely appreciate till its gone. TA and Artest have a similar skill set, unlike Rice and Jones.

  64. update from ESPN 3yrs/$18 million for Artest

  65. my birthday today, and last week a friend gave me an ariza jersey. nba… where stormy free agency and a no-win ebay situation happens… hehe

  66. … I can’t wrap my mind around this right now. We got crazy pills artest? I thought that was the backup plan?

    Either Trevor’s agent just lost a major game of chicken, or he was completely serious that Trevor was going to walk. I cannot believe Trevor was seriously going to walk for equal money, it still boggles my mind.

    (PS I’m still holding out hope that somehow, some way, we can still bring back trevor and LO both — still possible, just means about $6m more tax in addition to trevor’s contract… yeah…)

  67. 369: great value for a player of Artest’s caliber. Sweet!

  68. 368. yes, but trevor just helped us get our ring. that 2nd quarter in game 5, man…

  69. This is a sad day for me. Trevor had become my favorite Laker over the course of a season and I would not say I’m a Artest fan. Doesn’t mean I can’t become one but I liked that this year’s team consisted of a bunch of “good” guys who were fun to root for. I hope it works

  70. I like it.

    Artest may have some issues and problems, but if Marbury can subdue himself for the Celtics, certainly Artest can do that here.

    Moreover, I like our approach better than the other teams’ around the league – we decided to improve by adding defense, not offense. I’m fairly certain that if Artest does sign, he was explicitly told that they were getting him for his defense.

    We’ll have versatile defenders at the 4 (Pau), 3 (Artest) and 2 (Kobe), with varying degrees of strength and speed to create favorable matchups.

  71. The Dude Abides July 2, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    I’m definitely not happy right now about Artest to the Lakers. One of the joys about this team was that so many were such likable guys. I think Trevor got bad advice from his agent, and is going to regret that he took equal pay from someone other than his hometown team. Ugh…if this is true, I will feel just as bad as I did that day in February 1999 when we traded Eddie Jones away.

  72. New post up in a little bit.

    But know that Ariza did not take equal money — the Lakers could have offered MLE money with bigger raises each year (by not using the MLE itself). Ariza will now play for less. Not in his home town. Not with the team he won a ring with.

  73. yet another random thought: if pj retires after next season. what kinda anti-crazy-pill-pills can rambis and b-shaw come up with?

  74. The more details that come in, the more it seems that the front office wanted Artest over Ariza from the get go. Perhaps Artest was Plan A, and Trevor was plan B all along. David Lee might have actually been speaking the truth when he said the Lakers do not want Ariza. Hmmmm.

  75. 3 years 18 million for Ron Artest, that’s a great deal for the lakers, especially since Ariza wanted 8-9 million a year.

    Unfortunately I think Ariza and his agent just lost a game of chicken.

  76. Not at all excited about this. I was really looking forward to watching Ariza blossom here as a Laker.

    But there’s no question that Artest is, in the short term, a much better player than Trevor is. He’s a headcase, sure, but he’s a superior on-ball defender who (and this is most important) has the respect of the referees. He’s also a good rebounder and a solid shooter (when his feet are set). He should get a lot of open looks here (unlike in Houston). Maybe even more importantly, this significantly weakens Houston’s perimeter defense insofar as it is geared to stopping Kobe. (If Houston turns around and signs Ariza I’ll be curious how he will do in that system).

    Whether he can fit in with this team is a different question altogether. We shall see.

  77. I think a lot of real laker fans have mixed feelings

  78. who else thinks that mitch kinda got a little scared by the arms race that’s goin on since draft day?

  79. For the love of God, please re-sign Odom. Adding Artest is a risky move on its own, but at the expense of Ariza and Odom it would be downright lunacy.

  80. I certainly have mixed feelings. I love Ariza, his game and how his personality seemed to mesh with the team. I am most worried about how Artest will affect team chemistry and morale.

  81. What I am semi-worried about, is, of course, Karma.

    Ariza played a role in defeating the Magic in the finals, and if he joins Houston, Cleveland, or Portland… I can see him exercise some of that Karma on us as well.

    But still, if we can get some good years out of Artest, which I think we can, we should be better off.

    Just a tad worried about our T’s next season. Hope we don’t have to resort to signing Rasheed over Odom or something.

  82. 387

    Artest doesn’t normally pick up that many Ts.

  83. The fireworks started early in Los Angeles. Definitely alot to analyze and discuss about Atrest’s impact on the team. LA needs Odom to match the moves by the Spurs, Cleveland and Orlando

  84. on the positive side:

    – 3 yrs < 5 yrs
    – better on the ball d
    – stronger sf to check the likes of bron and pierce
    – more refined player for now (instead of waiting further TA development, even if it’s soon) means we get more out of kobe’s prime years

  85. I am just as apprehensive as others here about this decision, but lets remember that Trevor was a twice-traded bench player who blossomed in the Lakers system.

    I think management decided to add talent and toughness rather than just keep the same team together because they anticipate next year being a much harder road to the title. In other words, they took the dynamic approach rather than the static approach and only time will tell if it was the correct decision.

    One thing for sure, however, next year is going to be unbelievable!

  86. What do you do when your the Lakers and Ariza says, you have to overpay me to keep me and if not I’ll take the MLE from another team and Artest basically says, I’ll play in LA for a discount in years and money.

    I do think the Lakers hoped Ariza would turn the MLE offer down so they could sign Artest and say “we offered Ariza a fair market value deal and he turned it down, and Artest is playing for us for below market value”.

  87. Gonna miss all those highlights involving Ariza, that’s for sure.

    Hope we get Brown back and see him blossom like Ariza did.

  88. We definitely sign LO now, if he stays thats another question. Mitch has shown he has a few tricks up his sleaves. Artest was in the plans all along when he was chill’n at those LAKER games.

  89. lets be honest, we have no idea how this will shape up until november, im more worried about getting lamar back

  90. It’s awfull. Ariza has produced just more. He’s already better player than Artes – and he’s going up, while Artest is going down.

    I could understand it if Ariza had some stupid offer – but he will probably get similar money around MLE. I don’t understand it at all. From all teams Lakers decided to chase a name instead of a player.

    Mitch, WHYYYYY?

  91. 384. I dont think he got scared it was just the fact that the longer we waited on TA to make a decision the list of options for his replacement was going to get shorter. TA had to as the old saying goes “either s### or get off the pot”

  92. Sorta tough and unexpected development, since Ariza said in his exit interviews that he felt a lot of love. A lot of love.

    I really wonder how exactly events unfolded (sure will hear a version from David Lee), but I’m guessing it was part Artest lobbying and Ariza not accepting the MLE.

    Now, for Ariza’s sake, I hope he does get signed for something more than the MLE. Would make both sides feel really awkward if Ariza signed for the MLE, or worse, less than that.

  93. New Artest Thoughts post up.

    While nothing can be finalized until July 8, everyone is now telling me done deal.

  94. spurs and cavs got rj and shaq without giving up much. celts are lookin to build the big-4 with sheed. ours is a horizontal move in comparison to those vertical ones. high-risk upgrade at a position that didn’t have such a bad time of it last season.

    when danny ainge traded for ray allen, many thought that it was a horrible trade getting an aging pg with good name but bad knees. it turned out to be just the first half of a 2-punch combo trade. can this possibly be mitch’s first of 2 punches? does he have some secret admirer who’ll take our garbage for draftpicks or something?

  95. My guess is the Lakers looked at the contract year stats of Luke Walton and Sasha and decided that Ariza’s 3 point shooting is fool’s good and will most likely revert back to the mean (as it did for Sasha and Luke). Now I love Ariza if he’ shooting 50 % from 3 as he did in the playoffs, but is Ariza’s game worth 8-9 mil a year (what he was asking) if he really is just a 29 % three point shooter? When teams start chasing him off that 3-point line next year will he adjust or will his shooting go in the tank like Sasha’s?
    Another question is, does Ariza do anything that we can definitively say Ron Artest cannot do? If not, then why should the Lakers pay Ariza more when they can get someone for cheaper and who arguably is better right now.

    I understand the mixed feelings from fans but I agree with the Laker management on this one.

  96. The argument against Artest wasn’t never whether he could be a good fit, but whether he would be. Certainly, if he plays within the system he brings toughness and strength to a team built on quickness and length. He gives us a solid shooter, another option at the post so teams can’t hide Redick on Ariza, and someone who can guard Pierce, LeBron, and Carmelo with his strength.
    But the bigger question remains to be whether he will conform to the system and play 3rd and 4th fiddle. The more I think about it, the more I see differences between the Hou situation and ours. He had to be the ballhandler and creator when Aaron, Luis, couldn’t create for themselves and Yao couldn’t get the ball. On a team of established players like Kobe and Pau he may defer a little more. I may question his commitment and stability but I don’t question his respect for Kobe. Secondly, I like how management decided to be proactive instead of reactive. They got someone who can not only play Ariza’s role but also Odom’s at the 4. Sure he will be not as good at some things but he will be better at others. And chances are Odom will be back.

    So I’m not sold yet, but I can start to see some things that make sense with Artest being on our team.

  97. Was this the plan? I just have a feeling a 24 year old Ariza leaving will haunt us Lakers fans.

    Does the Lakers FO think so little of Ariza? Is it a giant middle finger to his agent? No chance he’s back? Really, that’s it?

  98. Is there some reason you guys aren’t making a run at Kidd? Apparently he’s considering a MLE one year deal from the Knicks. Why would he not consider the same or better from LA? You guys could really use him, and your starting 5 would be insane. Am I missing something?

    -Timberwolves fan

  99. well there you go, mitch agreed with me 🙂