The Gift and the Curse

Darius Soriano —  July 5, 2009
NBA: MAY 06 Conference Semifinals - Rockets at Lakers - Game 2

I want to preface this post with the fact that I am truly going to miss Trevor Ariza.  I wrote about Ariza a little while back and expressed my opinion that we should keep him.  So, losing Trevor is a blow to me as a Lakers fan.  At this moment, I have strong opinions about his agent, the manner in which Trevor has departed our team, and having to defend a title without a player that I truly thought of as a core contributor to our success.  Losing Ariza is a sad turn of events for me.  I can only wish him the best and hope he continues to grow into the player that we all think he can be.  All that said, we are moving on (but before we do – one more look at what we did!).  So the focus of this post is only on the newest Laker: Ron Artest.

There are so many variables to the Lakers’ acquisition of Ron Artest that my head is spinning.  I am excited and terrified at the same time.  The only comparison I can make is being at the top of a climb on a roller coaster and we are about to start the dashing descent that is both exhilarating and fear inducing at the same time.  As Kurt said so simply (and yet aptly) Ron Artest will be a Laker.  Six simple words and suddenly a swell of thoughts, emotions, gut reactions, and rationalizations hit these boards and media outlets all at once.

Personally, I don’t have a fully defined opinion yet.  In the past, whenever talks swirled around a potential Artest acquisition, I was firmly against it.  For one, those talks always centered on replacing Odom with Artest and I was flat out opposed to that.  Secondly, any potential trade for Artest usually involved the Lakers taking back some awful contract that would have killed our cap flexibility for that and future seasons.  Third, I wondered whether his game would mesh with the team we had in place and whether or not all the previously mentioned factors would skew his role and make him out to be some sort of savior to our team and its championship aspirations (which is the exact type of mentality that inspires the dreaded “hero mode” from Artest that we all cheered for as opponents).  Basically, acquiring this type of player under these circumstances was a non-starter for me; I didn’t even want to have the conversation.

All that said, I have always been a fan of Artest’s talent and ability.  I’ve always viewed him as a very good player that could be a contributor on a title contender.  Though that belief was always dependent on what team he went to and if that team would have the requisite players, coaches, offensive and defensive systems, and environment to inspire Ron to contribute in a meaningful way.  You see, not all contenders are built the same.  And while they share many of the same ingredients, they don’t always have the same personalities or egos or schemes that would enable a player like Artest to make a positive, sustained impact.  But now, there is no more debating – Artest is a Laker.  He will be a member of this team and be depended on to contribute.  So, the question is: are the Lakers the team that can inspire the best that Artest has to offer?  Lets explore some of the variables on our team and how Ron will fit in.

Offense: It’s well understood that the Lakers are Triangle team.  Almost all of our players have either been brought in specifically because they provide the skills to contribute in this offense or because their talent level is so high that the coaches have seamlessly integrated them and gotten the most out of them as contributors.  Whether we’re discussing Luke or Gasol, Sasha or Odom, our guys have been viewed within the context of what roles they can fill in making our offense successful.  So, where does Ron fit in?

If we’re talking offensive skills, Ron Artest is the prototypical Triangle SF.  He can handle the ball to initiate offense, shoot the jumpshot from long or midrange, pass well, move well without the ball, set good screens, be a beast on the offensive glass, and a bull on the low block.  He’s just a fundamentally sound basketball player.  So within our offense, he should be able to utilize his full skill set and operate with a high level of efficiency.  I mean, Ron will have plenty of opportunities to shoot wide open jumpshots as the ball gets swung from strong to weak side after sideline Triangle initiations or pressure releases.  He should also see plenty of post up isolations at the elbow and the low block (ala Kobe) after he cuts to the weakside, sets down screens, and then looks to pin his man.  I would not be surprised to also see Ron operate out of the hub of the Triangle, have the strong side wings cut off of him, and then see Ron use his strength to get high percentage shots at the basket (ala Luke Walton).  Plus, with his perimeter skills, Ron provides the Lakers with another player that can run the P&R and make a good play for either himself or a teammate.  Needless to say, we’ve been looking for this type of all court and multi-skilled player to play SF for us for a long time as he can be a strong finisher in most, if not all, of our sets.

However, finishing is only one aspect of how the SF needs to be effective within our offense.  How will Artest operate within this offense when it’s a teammate and not him that’s in the best position to score?  As many have mentioned before, Ron is the type of player that likes the ball in his hands and likes to make decisions while he holds the ball.  Those instincts will have to be reeled in for him to be successful in this offense.  The Triangle is a system based off ball and player movement where reading and reacting to the opponents defensive tendencies create easy offense and quality shots.  As Michael Jordan once described it, the Triangle is an equal opportunity offense.  And when one player decides he’s going to hold the ball and search and probe for an opening, the offense can easily fall apart (or at least be greatly hampered and then very dependent on high level shot making – like the shots that Kobe takes and makes).  I mean, when Ron is at the pinch post and the cutting wing comes across looking for the hand off, will he deliver the ball or will he hold it and look for his own opportunity?  When he’s in the hub of the Triangle and the player that feeds the post cuts off his shoulder to the baseline side and is open, will he execute the drop pass or will he pound the rock and try to forcefully take his man?  When he has the ball on the extended wing will he make the post entry or will he motion for the big man to come out and set the screen so he can run P&R?  As I stated before, this is an offense with infinite options based off the reads made by the players on the floor.  If one player (especially the player with the ball) reads the defense a certain way, that will dictate the direction of the offense for that possession.  It’s a real concern that Ron will stall our offense as he’ll have ample opportunities to be a decision maker in determining how a possession unfolds.  Will he learn to read the defense in the manner that we need him to and in the manner that his role dictates?  These are all questions that concern me.

Defense: This is the area of the game where Artest will seemingly have his biggest impact.  Perennially considered one of the best defenders in the league and even winning the DPOY award in his career, Artest is used to having tough defensive assignments and revels in these challenges.  Artest’s combination of size, strength, length, anticipation, and good (but not great) lateral quickness has enabled him to excel defensively for his entire career.  But, how will all of these skills and attributes translate to the defensive scheme that we run?

Here is where it’s important to re-emphasize that the Lakers do not run a typical defensive scheme.  Yes, they play plenty of straight up man to man on ball handlers.  But behind the ball handler, the Lakers consistently played a strong side zone.  Ron will often be put in positions while guarding the ball where his goal isn’t only to stay between his man and the basket, but do so while funneling that man to where his help defense is located.  And while this all sounds quite standard, understand that the Lakers help defenders are often positioned in different positions than players in a traditional scheme.  Realize too that for elite on ball defenders, the main goal is to only clamp down their man – not necessarily to contain and shade them in a manner that maximizes the team’s defensive scheme.  He’ll also be asked to trap more than he has in the past and do so without fouling.

Plus, when he’s not guarding the ball and on the weakside, he’ll also be asked to be the helper in a non-traditional way.  Essentially, he’ll be put in situations where his first instinct on where to help may be incorrect.  For example, imagine Ron is on the weakside with Kobe (away from the ball) and then Fisher (guarding the ballhandler), Lamar, and Pau are forming our SSZ.  Now envision a skip pass is executed to Ron’s man (the SF) who is on the opposite wing.  Is it really Ron’s job to rotate to “his” man?  The answer may depend on where Kobe is and the positioning of the players that LO and Pau are matched up with while zoning up the strong side.  In this instance, Ron may actually have lane help responsibilities or he may need to replace (a vacated) Kobe and find the SG.  For such a strong defensive player, it seems strange to question if he’ll be able to play strong defense for us.  But, we are going to ask him to play a scheme that he’s never played before and with that comes a learning curve and also some mistakes.  And considering he’s such a headstrong player, will he be willing to buy into what our defensive concepts are and execute them in the manner that we need him to?  In the end, I think he will be, but it will take patience and teaching from our coaches and acceptance from the player.  This leads us to…

Coaching and Chemistry: It’s been reported that Phil Jackson will return for the final year of his contract.  This confirmation puts to end the rumors of Rambis or Coach K taking over and allows us to concentrate on how Phil will get the most out of Artest.  I actually think a move like this will invigorate Phil in that Artest is the type of player that is a challenge to coach – but challenges that lead to success are often the most rewarding.  In a previous post, Bill Bridges made two key points in regards to Phil and the (potential) mindset of the coaches going into next season:

Given PJ’s track record dealing with Rodman, he is the only one the Lakers could trust to capitalize on the Artest experiment. In other hands, this is a dangerous combustible experiment…The Lakers with Artest loses more regular season games while he learns the triangle and gets integrated into the defensive scheme but has a better chance controlling Denver and Cleveland.  I’ll take that.

As Bill Bridges implies, the Artest acquisition is where Phil’s player management skills will be depended on most.  With Ron now in the fold the rhetoric from Kobe, Fish, and Phil about this team being an easy one to coach or all the players being on the same page is (seemingly) obsolete.  Phil must not only reign in Ron’s penchant for breaking plays and playing outside the system, but he will also need to be patient and accepting of the inevitable growing pains that come with any addition of a new player (especially one the caliber of Artest).  I mean, we all marveled at Gasol’s ability to pick up our offense when he was traded for a season and a half ago.  But many forget Phil’s comments about us running a watered down/simplified version of the Triangle so that Pau would not have to endure such a large learning curve.  Phil may need to make similar adjustments (even with a full training camp) to incorporate Artest into the structure of the team.  As Bill Bridges notes, this may lead to less success in the regular season with the hope that we can grow as a team and gain momentum for another deep playoff run in defense of our championship.  As fans, many will see the addition of Artest and start to talk dynasty.  However, we must understand all facets of integrating a player like Artest and adjust our expectations accordingly.

Again, there will be a transition and adjustments to be made.  So, just like the coaches did with Pau, I can envision Phil using different strategies to take advantage of Ron’s strengths as a player – especially on defense.  Before this past season (particularly with the Bulls), Phil often used a switching man to man defense – relying heavily on versatile defenders that could cover multiple positions.  I would not be surprised to see the Lakers use this type of scheme more this season, especially if we have any combination of Kobe, Artest, Odom, Walton, Pau, Bynum, Fisher, and Sasha on the court.  All of these players have the athleticism, size, and/or strength to guard multiple positions with diverse skills.  I could also see Phil using Ron in the Odom role in our SSZ and using his instincts and defensive presence to maximize our defensive strategy.  In other words, I look for even more impact from the coaches this season whether they’re related to player management or strategic adjustments.

But it will not just be on the coaches.  The players are going to need to help Artest in his assimilation by accepting him into the team while also not being enveloped by his strong personality.  I think this will be easier with Kobe, Fisher, and Odom being forceful and/or charismatic leaders and deserving of respect (assuming that Ron’s long time friend Odom is retained).  But for the younger more impressionable Lakers, this may be more of a challenge and will need constant monitoring.  By all accounts, Ron is a very good teammate that is willing to back up his mates at any and all costs.  However, that type of recklessness can also inspire people to act in similar ways and I’d prefer that we take on the personality of our coach or Kobe or Fisher than that of the fiery (and borderline loose cannon) Artest.  One of the major strengths of our team has been our chemistry and any new acquisition will test that togetherness.  Will he fit in?  Will he be the chameleon or the peacock?  This aspect of him coming to the team may be just as important to his success on the Lakers as Ron will need to understand that he’s coming to a championship winning team that has a clear number one AND number two player.  And even after Kobe and Gasol, we have (hopefully) Odom and an up and coming Bynum.  Artest must adapt to his mates and his role and the team must be accepting of him and integrate him in a way where he’s also not completely neutered of the traits that make him the player he is.  It will take a balance and this is truly something to pay attention to.

In the end, there are many potential positives and pitfalls that come with this acquisition.  And there are many questions that remain unanswered.  On talent alone, we’ve added a high level contributor that is one of the best two way players in the league.  However, with all that talent comes the short fuse, the disregard of structure, and the potential mindset that he, the player knows best.  Over the past several seasons, we have grown as a team and went from not making the playoffs to eventually winning the title.  That type of growth can only come with a mindset that promotes the team over the individual and the acceptance of roles over the chase for glory.  We’re now going to see how a championship team does with Ron Artest as a key player to its success.  As I said before, I’m excited and terrified at the same time.  It truly is the gift and the curse.  We, as Lakers fans, must be prepared for any outcome to the upcoming season as we enter these uncharted waters.  One thing I do know is that it won’t be boring.  But will the end to next season look like the end to the most recent one?  Obviously that depends on more than just the newest Laker, but he will play a big role in the outcome.  I know we’ll all be watching to see how he does.

-Darius

Darius Soriano

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112 responses to The Gift and the Curse

  1. Terrific article. Much better then anything else I’ve read or seen since the Artest news broke. Cant wait to see what happens!!

  2. good read darius

    ive been thinking about how artest adjust to our offensive system, but never considered how he would adjust to our defensive scheme

    and i agree, no matter what, this upcoming season won’t be boring

  3. Long time reader, first time poster. Thanks for this analysis, Darius.

    One thing that I haven’t seen discussed much on the sports sites and blogs is that when it comes to the triangle offense, Artest should already have a good deal of familiarity with it, having played in the triangle under both Tim Floyd and Bill Cartwright. It would be interesting to have some of the more knowledgeable members of the FB&G family go back and examine at Artest’s performance during that time (yes, it was his first three years in the league, but still) to try assess how quickly and how well he might fit into the Lakers’ plans.

  4. Will he be the chameleon or the peacock?

    I think we just found our new Lakers Artest nickname. “ Oh! Peacock just sucked the gravity right out of the building!”

    As always, great stuff Darius. Your knowledge of X’s and O’s is really remarkable. Most of us had never questioned how well Artest would fit into our current defensive scheme. But I agree – the acquisition of Artest may allow Phil and Rambis to alter our defensive scheme to maximize the personnel we have, and I think we’ll see some of that.

    No doubt there will be a transition period (months, likely) and a lot of frustration from Laker fans expecting a 70-win season early on next year. Knowing our personalities, we should brace for a lot of negativity early. But I think we’ll get it figured out later on in the season and really hit our stride then.

    In other sports news – officially the GOAT! Instant classic from Roddick and Federer this morning, I didn’t want that to end. Can’t stand Roddick, but I was very impressed with how far he’s come. Federer, though . . . just too good. Just too damn good, even having slipped from previous years. Legendary.

  5. Great points.

    It seemed like we were using the SSZ because the lack of on-ball one-on-one defenders, not despite it. And it broke down at times since well, you had to 1 and a half cover somebody. Ron is a smart defensive player though and I have no doubt he’ll be able to integrate into our system while at the same time bring that individual cover defense we so need. Plus, on the post, he’s unpostable.

    I’m more worried about Artest off the ball than on the ball. He’s a good passer and post player. He will get these opportunities at times and during mismatches. But the majority of his touches will come off Pau and Kobe’s isos that result in a scrambling defense. Can he cut as quickly to the basket as Ariza? Can he pull up and knock down that 3 when the D is scrambling instead of taking one dribble and a leaning 22 footer? These are the types of things he did against us during the Hou series. We were of course at the time cheering for him whenever he put the ball on the floor to drive or passed up an open 3 to opt for a dribble move. But now those same tendencies are going to make us cringe.

  6. Awesome post. On point.

  7. I’ve disagreed with much of the criticism leveled at Artest. I’ll try to lay out the main concerns people have and why I fell they’re irrelevant:

    1. The sticky hands

    It wasn’t long ago that Kobe was considered the consummate ball hog. Why? He played with Smush Parker and Kwame Brown as his starting point guard and center.

    Who has Ron played for recently? Sac and Houston.

    He played for Sac under an untested head coach with a team that, while talented, was in the middle of a rebuilding process. He didn’t get along with Bibby, which is not exactly uncommon for most players by all accounts. Still, the main players got their touches, ie. Kevin Martin who still managed to flourish with Ron on the floor.

    In Houston, Ron played for a decent head coach, but on a team that’s constantly unhealthy. When both Yoa and Tracy are injured, who is realistically going to run the offense? 3rd option Ron Artest is who. Even so, Aaron Brooks still got his touches when he was hot. Let’s not forget that Artest carried that team to 7 games against the world champions, better than any other team during the playoffs.

    Do we really believe that Ron will feel the need or be in any position to run the offense with Kobe, Pau, Odom, and Bynum on the team? The notion is ridiculous.

    2. Character issues

    Ron Artest will forever be linked to the brawl at the Palace and deservedly so. However, it was 5 years ago. Someone threw a beer at someone already irate from being choked out by Ben Wallace during a game in which he was losing. Time to forgive him for a bad all around situation.

    As far as Ron’s inclination to outbursts, I can’t think of too many scrappy players who haven’t had them. Kobe, Shaq, and even Fisher have all had fights. Ron got ejected twice during our series with the Rockets, but almost everyone here agreed that he shouldn’t have been. Even when he’s been angry, he has maintained control.

    Jerry’s Final Thought:

    While Artest comes with some baggage, it has mostly been unpacked by other teams and coaches. We’re getting an Artest that has experienced the lows of his actions and will almost assuredly not repeat them.

  8. I’m a diehard laker fan and a fan of this blog as well. But it’s been really annoying how this blog and other websites have been so heartbroken that Trevor Ariza is gone and very apprehensive about Artest.

    I don’t want to belittle what Ariza did for the lakers last season, but too many people believe the lakers would not have won without him. He was important, but not that important. He was a product of the triangle and the attention kobe and gasol got. Trevor still has so many flaws in his game. Trevor Ariza has no in between game. Whenever he was chased off the 3 point line and it wasn’t an open lane, basically it was a turnover for the lakers because more times than not he would miss the mid range jumper or throw a wild floater in the lane. Artest will be able to knock down that mid range shot, if not get to the basket and get fouled. Ariza was also well below average in freethrow shooting. Throughout the playoffs the lakers offense got really stagnant when the defense forced Ariza to make plays. If you look back in the finals and throughout the playoffs it will be very clear what I’m talking about. Ariza shined when he spotted up with no defender within a couple feet from him or in the open court. And defensively Ariza was far from being a lock down defender. He couldn’t bother any top or near top perimeter players. Trevor excelled at playing the passing lanes. On ball defense needed a lot of work. Kobe was still required to log a lot of minutes on the top perimeter players. Trevor didn’t do a great job on Hedo Turkoglu as many like to state. Trevor did okay. Turkoglu still got the shots he wanted.
    However, like most, I really wanted Trevor to stay and improve within the lakers system. Trevor was a really good fit for the lakers but there were problems that the lakers needed to address and I believe they did with Artest.

  9. Call me a crazy optimist, but I have no doubts about Artest’s willingness to try to play the right way.

    The question will be how he will react to his growing pains in the offense and defense. Someone like Farmar has appeared to react with arrogance and sulking. It is plausible that Artest will take pointers from Kobe and others.

    Interesting point in the comments about Ron’s past tri experience. My main concern is more of whether he has the hoops iq to grasp the schemes. Someone like Glen Rice or Vlad or Payton never quite seemed to get it.

    But after all this worry, I think Ron has a good chance of becoming a big fan favorite. If he hustles, defends hard, does not ballhog, and keeps being quotable without throwing teammates under the bus, I think we’re going to love him, even if he gets tossed out of a few games and messes up the offense and shoots erratically.

  10. @apricot
    your a crazy optimist

  11. *crap that should be “you’re”

  12. Another comment to address Darius’ assessment of how artest will fit as far as x’s and o’s. First and foremost the lakers SSZ schemed sucks. They really need to come up with something else, because it doesn’t work. Bynum and other players have openly critized that scheme throughout the year. That schemed work the first 15 games of the season and teams have easily figured out how to beat that scheme. With good ball movement, teams such as denver and utah, got way too many lay ups. The lakers seemed so good defensively against Orlando because they didn’t use that scheme. They didn’t have to because orlando just spotted up from the 3 point line and played inside out with dwight or the 2 man game with Hedo and Dwight. But it was sad watching the first 4 games of the denver series because denver got whatever they wanted, when they wanted. Now with artest, hopefully the lakers will play a lot more man to man defense like in chicago where they had plenty of good on ball defenders. Darius may surely be right when saying artest may not fit well in the SSZ scheme. But I just hope the lakers don’t play that scheme at all, unless its a fast guard fisher cannot defend such as Aaron Brooks.

    Offensively, the lakers become so much more versatile. I’m not worrying about the triangle because the lakers have been slowly playing less and less of it. And when the triangle does break down, the lakers will have at least 3 or 4 players on the court at all times who can either get their own shot or make a play for others. Artest shot creating and play making ability will be extremely important to our second unit. Our second unit at the beginning of the 2nd and 4th quarters became a liability because of the inability of anyone except lamar to create a shot and bynum being injured. Now I imagine ron will stay in with the second unit as paul pierce and ginobili does for their respective teams. So i see ron artest getting an early rest in the first and 3rd quarters and in the middle of the second quarter. So our second unit to start the second quarter should look like Bynum, Odom, Artest, Sasha/Brown, Farmar. Basically what artest gives us is defensive stability and an offensive threat on the court at all times. Walton will play more with kobe and gasol which will allow his passing and ability to run the offense shine.

    But there is always the if. If ron artest doesn’t buy into the system and wants to do his own thing then of course it will be all bad for the lakers. If not then the lakers become one of the most offensively and defensively stacked teams this league has seen since the bulls and the 99 spurs.

  13. I just can’t wait for Garnett to get down on all fours, and for Artest’s post-game presser.

    “Don’t you know who you’re barking at? I’m Ron friggin Artest!”

    Wait, is Artest under 6’1″ and 180 pounds? Crap, never mind, I guess Garnett wouldn’t come near him.

  14. With the addition of Artest, do you guys think we’ll be seeing more of the triangle or less?

    I believe Phil will give Artest the responsibility of initiating the triangle and have Kobe play off the ball a little more. While there will probably be some growing pains, the Lakers ought to be a well-oiled machine by the start of the playoffs.

  15. this is gonna be 1 entertaining season…

  16. Darius, another great article. I, too, am very curious to see how it all works out. With our mature, calm veteran presence, I feel Artest will tow the line. Of course, only time will tell.

  17. Excellent article, Darius.

    I agree on almost all points.
    But from a non-Laker fan’s perspective this is what I can say:

    What the hell is the NBA Management doing to allow this to happen?
    It’s just unfair, I would take Artest any time in my team because he just brings that kind of presence where you feel you can go out with your head held high knowing that some big bully is at your back ready to defend you at all costs.
    It gives you confidence and confidence gives you Ws when you’re supposed to lose.

    Honestly, you got someone who’s more worthy of a higher salary yet you had him at $6 Million, that alone says how much Artest is willing to give up (in terms of him being a bad-[profane] and ego-headed maniac).

    Of course at times we will see the “old” Artest, because truth be told, just like any other player in the NBA, we are all humans.
    Plus, I would rather take Artest shooting than Sasha or DJ Mbenga any time of the day.
    He will go into the lows, but knowing that he came into a team who recently won a championship, wouldn’t it be unfair for him to say that he is going to destroy this team?
    He knows what is at stake now, and he will do more good than bad, more than what you guys could have ever imagined.

    And about the experimenting, I don’t think it will last even for a quarter of a season, 8 games or less is enough to get a guy fit into the system (not including training camp and pre-season games), especially the likes of Ron Artest.

    This year, LA is favored to repeat. Now after acquiring Ron Artest, they are now favored to 3-peat.

    Life is unfair.

  18. I’m surprised nobody mentioned the value of finally getting a real enforcer on an all-finesse team, especially when the toughest guy on your team is your 6′ PG. Scola would not be getting up off the floor nearly as quickly if it was Artest running through that pick :)

  19. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wkAP9E8aLw8&feature=channel_page

    ron talking to his agent on the phone before the laker deal.

  20. I think Kurt, Darius, Kwame A., Bill Bridges, and Reed are among the best basketball minds around – I consistently look forward to reading their posts.

    But I have to agree with Joel, the Chicken Little routine is getting a little out of hand.

    Starting in the second half of Game 4, Ariza was absolutely FANTASTIC and a huge part of LA winning games 4 & 5 against Orlando, but everyone forgets he was Tony Allen level brutal on offense for the first 3 and a half games of the Championship Round. Orlando was wisely chasing him off the 3 pt line, and he was trying to drive the ball – and he either missed a mid-range jumper, or turned the ball over.

    In the second half of Game 4, he hit a few tricky shots he normally doesn’t hit, and then in Game 5 a heart-broken Orlando squad forgot to guard him at the 3 point line.

    I still love him as a player, and I still think he has a ton of potential.

    But ultimately, the Lakers lucked out in facing Orlando (another “finesse” team in the Finals). I’m not saying the Lakers are soft, but they’re still missing an “enforcer.”

    With Artest, now they have one.

    The concerns about how he’ll fit into the offense are understandable – but I have a hunch that for the most part, he’ll fit in just fine – he’s got too much respect for Kobe and Phil Jackson.

    Plus, this is a guy who hits 40% from three point range…on mostly contested shots – how do you think he’ll do with the wide-open threes he’ll be shooting with Kobe and Gasol drawing attention away?

    I don’t think the concerns about him defensively are well-founded.

    He’s a step slower, but he’s still one of the elite defenders in the NBA. You really think the Lakers are going to force him into their largely ineffective SSZ? One of the reasons the Lakers came up with the SSZ is because Kobe is really their only elite on-ball defender. WIth Artest, I’m sure the Lakers will adjust to play to his considerable talents.

    I don’t think how he fits in defensively will be an issue at all.

    Ultimately, I think everyone is overthinking this Ron Artest signing a little bit too much:

    1) The Lakers were able to sign him for less money than Ariza, which is a huge steal by itself.

    2) Defensively it’s an upgrade. Lakers now don’t have to wear out Kobe putting him on the Carmelos, Pierces, and Lebrons of the world (Ariza is a little too light in the pants to truly be able to shut them down).

    3) Offensively, you now have a small forward who’s just about as good a three point shooter as VladRad, and can also play effectively in the post. Neither of these are bad things.

    4) You have a player who’s crazy, but also older and more mature, and playing for a team where he has limitless respect for the star player and head coach.

    5) As Kurt said in a previous post, nobody is going to accuse the Lakers of being soft anymore.

    By the way, I hope I’m right…

  21. Hi Darius,

    Although I clearly share your sense of loss in Trevor, who I expected and hoped to be here forever, this is Ron Artest. There is only one possible reason for Ron to come to the Lakers for $6 million: his first ring.

    Not only will we see “Good Ron,” we’ll see Ron even more fanatical than Kobe next year to think “championship” every game–and no one will call the Lakers “soft.”

    Next year, I expect to see a more defense-half court team than this year that stresses execution on offense to limit turnovers and transition plays. It is unlikely to have the defensive scheme we had this year, so many of the detailed concerns you express may be moot.

    With good health, the Lakers will win. The question for me is whether or not it will be as much fun as this championship!

  22. Boston Herald reporting Rasheed Wallace agrees to contract w/ Celtics.

  23. Man it would be fun (and nerve-wracking) to play the Celts in the Finals again. They match up so well with us (but the same could be said about us matching up with them):

    -3 starter-level bigs: Wallace, Garnett, Perkins vs Bynum, Gasol, Odom

    -Strong, physical SFs (one more offensive-minded, one more defensive minded, but both capable on both ends): Pierce vs Artest

    The backcourt is where the comparisons fall apart (I’d love to put Fish on the same level as Rondo, but my computer might ignite and burn to ashes). But the frontline comparisons are interesting to make, if Wallace does sign.

  24. I have to a agree with the optimists.

    Ron will improve the defense because they won’t have to rely so much on their ineffectual zone. It will be nice to have someone who actually sticks to their man and moves their feet and body when giving help instead of just swatting with their hands.

    Offensively, Ron understands how to play. He does hit open men and will take a smaller man straigt to the basket. Look back at the houston series and watch how many times he punished Ariza until the Lakers adjusted.

    The only ones who should be worried are the opposing and teams and fans.

  25. It’s going to be fun watching the East sort themselves out. I still can’t seem to give Orlando enough credit; it seems like it’s going to be Boston vs. Cleveland over there, provided they are all in good health.

    As for the West, or rather, us, I’m not too worried. If Karl Malone and Gary Payton can try to adjust, Ron Artest certainly can and will.

  26. going to be an interesting season! celts also loading up – might be going for Hill. Mitch needs to be closing our deals or getting us even better!!! Come on Mitch/Buss, celts are going all in – are you?????

  27. I agree with what someone had said before, one of the best benefits of this signing is that it gives the team something to focus on all season instead of coasting towards the playoffs. Ron is hungry for the title and if not for the players it will at least be entertaining for the fans to see the whole regular season and how this all unfolds.

  28. The Dude Abides July 5, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    19. DTaft, thanks for linking to that video. Wow. It’s now apparent, from Artest’s agent, that Trevor was clearly the #1 priority for the Lakers. LGD really screwed Trevor by negatively exaggerating the team’s negotiating stance.

  29. the other Stephen July 5, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    darius, you are awesome.

  30. A Brief Guide to Artest’s Life in the Triangle

    I have done a superficial bit of research on Artest and the triangle.

    I believe the triangle has been run, outside of Phil’s teams, only three times in the NBA: 96-97 by Jim Cleamons (yes our asst), 99-02 by Tim Floyd and Bill Cartwright, and 07-09 by Reggie Theus (called “trianglish”.

    The careful student of NBA history will observe that those teams sucked. I believe it’s uncontroversial to say that the teams had a ton of new players with not very high talent, and using the complex triangle probably turned bad teams into godawful teams.

    By a peculiar coincidence, Artest played for two of those teams, probably setting a record for time exposed to triangle for a non-Phil player. His first 2.5 rookie years were spent with Floyd’s post-Jordan Bulls. It is not clear that that team ever really played a competent triangle. I can’t find evidence that Artest bucked the system, and he was supposedly Jordan’s favorite Bull. Known initially as a defender, he had bad FG% (just above 40%) and 3PT% (around 30%).

    He went to Indiana and defended, did not play in a triangle, spent time in the stands, then was traded to Sacramento. In his first half year he played for Adelman and got on swimmingly with him. (No triangle.)

    Adelman left and Reggie Theus installed elements of the triangle, though to be sure I never noticed them in what they were doing. Artest was traded after more than a year and a half under Theus, and widely cited as freelancing on O.

    So, what can we conclude about Artest in the Tri from his more than four years combined exposure? Nothing much, except that he’s seen the principles a fair amount in practice, so he’ll be starting with quite a head-start. This can only be a good thing. But he’s apparently never played in a competent triangle, which is the main thing giving me hope that this time it will take. One can understand the temptation for a skilled and confident player, when playing for an incompetent team, to freelance. It’s not right, but perhaps it’s correctable in a very different situation.

  31. San Antonio, Orl, and Cle all got better, but w/ Sheed the Celtics to me become the most dangerous team. Their interior defense and spacing are much improved. Their only hole there was in their second unit. If Garnett can come back and be some measure of himself, championship defense will make for a difficult matchup for anyone.

    No news of Odom’s status?

  32. Yeah. Need Odom. Also want Brown.

    Going to be an amazing race this year. Lots of regular season dates to circle!

    BTW my favorite part of that video is Artest blowing off his agent for a full minute while he’s giving him a 5 minute rundown so he can let some guy do some shout-outs to Detroit.

    The guy can’t help himself, I guess it’s just who he is.

  33. 29/Don W: on twitter, ric bucher said LO’s agent spoke to portland today.

  34. Don – Agreed. On paper, Boston is a very complete team. And to be honest, I expect them to be just as good in real life. If healthy, unquestionably the favorites in the East.

    Oh man I can’t wait to play the Celts for the first time this year. Paulie Pierce, meet Ron-Ron…

  35. 18. The reason nobody said we were finally adding toughness around here is because Denver, Houston and Orlando all did their best to out physical us through the playoffs and we pushed back. This may not be the toughest team in the NBA, but if you watched the playoffs you can’t call them soft.

    Re: Odom. If I were his agent I would be calling Portland as well. The most Portland can offer is just shy of $9 mil. If — and that is a big if — Portland offered that much, the question is how big is the hometown discount Odom said he would give LA and how much will Buss pay? I just have a gut feeling it will be enough (no word or proof there).

    30. Apricot, what Lazenby said is that while those teams ran the “triangle” it was not really stuck to or run with the focus that PJ’s teams did. He may have some understanding of the basic principals, but my guess is that this will feel totally different. Still, not that big a deal because, of my concerns about Artest, his hoops IQ is not one of them. With a full training camp, he’ll come along fine.

  36. C’s most likely not to re-sing Powe and Davis. If they do get Sheed, they have a solid starting 5, albeit an aging one. But who’s left on the bench? They still lack a role player or two for them to contend. I’d pick CLE or ORL over them.

  37. I’m on the side that Artest will be a big + rather than a big -. The guy just took in a smaller pay check just to win. That alone should be enough for all the IFs surrounding his game w/ the Lakers.

    I still feel sorry for Trevor, though…

  38. D – Great post, but what is this “we” and “our” stuff? Do you own the team? Work for the team? Maybe you do, I don’t know. If not, it’s “they.” Don’t become Bill Simmons, brother! Keep up the good work – love the blog.

  39. C’s plan is probably just barely squeak into the playoffs, save their starters, and go from there. Possible and likely since they’re in the east, where it’s easy to crack the top 8 (but gets much tougher from there on out).

    On the West we have a less favorable regular season as the race to 8 is a bit tougher – but then again, we’re not looking to coast in the regular season either. And I guess it’s much better to have some regular season hardships than it is to have at least two 7-game series just to get to the finals, likely just before the finals too.

    Side note, if it really was Ariza’s agent screwing things up, man, it must be just crushing for Ariza. The guy had everything after being a journeyman, hometown love and championship and the trust from the staff and team… and now he’s off to Texas. I hope he takes care of himself, since Houston does not seem to be a place synonymous with healthy NBA players…

    And if Dallas can shell 8 mil for Kidd, I’m sure we can do the same for Odom. 3 years, 25 mil, perhaps. Hopefully he won’t suddenly be resentful about coming off the bench when his buddy Artest gets to start…

  40. odom is talking to portland bc he wants leverage with LA. Odom lives for the beach, and the lakers will pay him 9 mil (more than Portland can offer), but they are just hoping to get away with paying him less.

  41. #34

    +1! Paulie vs Ronron, Paulie gets spanking..haha! Imagine also, LO (assuming he stays, God I pray!) standing up to Kevin ‘the ape’ w/ Ronron somewhere nearby. Can’t wait!

  42. Anyone know how to tweet Trevor? We need him to back out of the Houston contract and take a smaller paycheck in LA. (Is that possible?) Sometimes we make mistakes – go back to Mitch on your own and suck it up. It’s like pulling off a bandaid – it hurts like hell at first but after the pain is gone you might still be a Laker!!!

    Come on Trevor – we all want you in LA!!!!!!!

  43. 2 years ago, I would have said that Ron Artest and the young Mike Tyson were one and the same. Both highly skilled yet very combustible and uncontrollable personalities. However, that’s where the similarities stop in my opinion.

    While Tyson is out putting tattoos on his face, Artest has grown up (sort of) and was the vocal leader of a Rockets team that tested this year’s Lakers like no other.

    Sure, Artest can also be compared to Rodman. But Rodman’s act was just that….an act. And he would usually take it too far. Artest wasn’t acting with his antics – he was just immature. The guy has grown up a bit in the last couple of years and I think he’ll get along just fine under the close watch of Phil, Kobe, and his good pal Lamar.

  44. Pau will be playing for his country this September. I say, “good luck, man!” I hope he stays away from injury. Play hard!

  45. I’m not a big fan of Artest and his video camera filming everything. The Lakers will not be happy with that.

  46. odom to portland. I’m not sure if that would be a good move. He would most likely come of the bench. Why would he want to come off the bench for a non championship contender. Portland may make it to the 2 nd round next year but they are a ways away from a championship. So if lamar is coming off the bench it might as well be for a championship team. i think lamar has found his niche on the team and will be back. If not the lakers coukd go after big baby davis

  47. Several commenters have spoke about the Lakers SSZ and essentially called it a bad scheme and that it should be scrapped. So everyone knows, this past season the Lakers were 6th in defensive efficiency with a rating of 104.7. The season prior the team ranked 5th, but with a slightly worse rating of 105.5. So I’m not sure if we could really call our scheme ineffectual considering it did produce better statistical results (though a lower overall ranking). I would also note that while it did seem that our defense did suffer as the season wore on, I recall much of that being effort based and not really related to the scheme. Right here on these boards the criticism of our defense was cosistently about how hard the team was trying and rarely about the x’s and o’s of the SSZ.

    All that said, I acknowledge that the team will likely mix up the scheme more to play to the players on the roster. I also think Ron will do a very good job in his individual matchups. However, the scheme the team played last season is a good one and was the one used in the run to a title – often limiting some of the best wing players in the league. So personally, I don’t want to see it scrapped completely, nor do I think it will be.

  48. Warren Wee Lim July 5, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    Excellent read Darius. As always.

    Ron Artest is, without a doubt, the most polarizing player to don the Purple and Gold in the modern era next to the guy we know as Kobe. That alone, takes out the doubt of “excitement” that he brings to our team. His often-combustible yet maligned “evil” ways are more perception-based rather than fact-based. Its like the CSI’s always running the prints on AFIS that browse on ex-con’s or guys with record 1st, rather than assume its the guy with the most motive.

    Drrayeye has seen me through once again. This guy is like my brother from a different mother. And like you brother, I am a fan of the Ron Artest to LA movement since we both conceptualized Spanish Fly to be a Laker. He was the exact piece we needed then, he is the very same piece we need to repeat now.

    I have this very weird feeling I’m carrying since the day RonRon said LA LA LA. In my mind, the retention of Lamar, Trevor and to some extent Shanwow is highly imperative. But the addition of Ron overshadows both needs in a certain way that will he incomprehensible to many. This is why I think such:

    1. Defending Champions often celebrate a “honeymoon” period after winning. Its like an unspoken rule that even the Bulls of 98 weren’t immune from. Especially if we retain the exact same thing, the guys in uniform have the tendency to think “Ahhhh we’ll step it up later when we HAVE to.”

    With the addition of Ron and the subsequent leaving of Trevor, the Lakers face up a brand new challenge. Honeymoon is suddenly cut short because now the Lakers have its task cut out for them. Even Phil is semi-not-enjoying his summer nowadays coz he needs to figure out which book to have Ron read. So in essence, its a jolt. A shot in the arm that we need to compete from the get-go and not slack… even though we are allowed that for the 1st 3 weeks.

    2. The Lakers need to develop a new set of rotations with the subbing of Ron from Trevor. Trev was a willing student. He is a listener and boy did he listen to Kobe. But now, the polarizing Ron has either some guys feeling intimidated or jealous. He will take minutes that was otherwise theirs, and he will shoot shots that are otherwise theirs. So now there’s a feeling of disharmony in the atmosphere. Even if no one speaks a word yet. Animosity should be the term.

    3. Ron, as we have noted several times, can play the 2,3 and 4. Meaning, whatever Phil needs him to be he can be. Question is, will he be. That gives Kobe and Fish and perhaps Lamar another angle to work on. They have to make Ron understand, and that have to make the others understand.

    4. Aside from the pure X and O’s, basketball as I’d like to see it also means egos. My amateur team always high five and hug each other after wins, but I also see endless blaming after every loss. This is typical ego stuff that leads a coach crazy.

    All in all, I could not be more excited. Drama is the theme this season. And like the 94 Rockets who decided to acquire a high-flying Clyde Drexler into its fold, the Lakers so will incorporate Ron into its system with an eventual win. There may be more bumps and bruises than we would like this season to be, but it promises to fall nothing short of exciting for us all.

  49. I have always liked Artest but Ariza is my favorite player in the league. This is Kupchek’s first bad move, and yes its bad because there is no chance this makes the team better, it can only stay the same at best. The bad move isnt really signing artest its just letting Ariza go, but whatever … The team at the begginning of the season doesnt really matter, I just hope they dont let Shannon Brown go, as Fisher’s wheels have come off.

    I just dont want to hear anything good after last year at this time everyone hated on Artest ,… here is a sample…

    “But simply put, Artest is not much of a better shooter than Odom. The numbers do not back it up, and in the basketball shooter numbers are the one reliable thing. Artest has a prettier shot but it does not go in more, except from three. And I just don’t think he’d be happy in the role as the third option, look how he struggled with one real threat (Martin) to his being the best player..”

    Kurt

  50. I was asleep, and my wife bought a miniature poodle. He’s black-furred with this Bride of Frankenstein white lightning streak from beard to belly. We’ve been staring at each other suspiciously from opposite corners of the room for seventeen hours. It’s totally silent, except for the sound of pages turning: I’m reading Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff (damn recommended) & he’s reading Walter Benjamin on Brecht. Then this happens: I grudgingly take him for a walk around 11 p.m., in Nichols Park near my apartment. We climb this little rise, bitterly resenting one another, and I see three tall fellows, two in dark hoodies, standing over a group of seated people say fifty yards distant in this little playground area. I lounge in the grass and command the poodle futilely to relieve himself. Fireflies blinking on and off, poodle distracted by these. If you squint and suspend disbelief, he looks like a black bear plunging after pixies in a fairy tale. Suddenly a young woman rides up on a ten-speed bike, breathless. She says, quote, “I would get out of here if I were you. Take the puppy! Me and nine of my friends just got robbed at gunpoint.” Ah. So the poodle and I saunter away coolly, and as we step onto sidewalk a police car pulls up lights a-whirl. Solo cop, passenger window rolls down, he’s all vested up etc., asks if I’ve noticed three tall fellows, two in dark hoodies, lurking about. Yeah, I did in fact, sir, but I believe they were just finishing up terrifying ten cherubic University of Chicago students. The cop says, quote, “You better take that puppy home!” And, as we walk home together, I realize: if three tall fellows, two in dark hoodies, approached me at this moment, and asked for my wallet, I’d not argue much; there’s not much in there; but if they asked for the poodle, I’d tell them to go get raped, and if they insisted, they’d have to insist very strongly, such as when you incapacitate someone with a bullet, otherwise no dice. I’m standing waiting at a crosswalk at 11:30 p.m. with a poodle I don’t know from Adam and I’m ready to die for him. So, the point is, I loved Ariza very much, and wish we could have kept him; the doberman; and he was a doberman, and anyone who scoffs at anyone for overemphasizing his valor in our latest conquest, may your stale breath return to your nostrils on the whirlwind, because his valor cannot be overemphasized; he bit Denver in the jugular, and the red blood ran; the point being: as for Artest the Rottweiler: in seventeen hours I’ve resigned myself in the foolish helpless way of unreasoning unreasonable love, simply because family’s family, to a Rottweiler and a poodle. May Ron Ron this season be as a bear amongst pixies, swatting them spinning in the blue nighttime air. I suspend my disbelief.

  51. I must agree with the author of this article. I think it was a very unbiased composition.

    There are always positives and negatives in any situation. We must hope that the positives outweigh the negatives. Ariza was a very GOOD player who fit in to our system perfectly, and had a career year. Would he have another career year next year? In Artest we are adding a much more talented player in almost all facets of the game. However, he may not fit into these schemes as fluidly. This argument doesn’t rely on the old: Artest is legally insane and may kill refs and little children on the basketball court. Thus it gets my praise.

  52. Think Artest and Pierce have history?

    This is definitely a must-see:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FD796H08J7w

  53. One thing I think Artest does do well is help the strong side zone. While he may help lock down some guys on the perimeter, basically nobody just shuts down a LeBron or Carmelo. I think the kind of help a couple of seven footers behind him can provide is something he is used to from Yao, and while the Houston defensive scheme is very different the idea of guiding the driving forward to the help is not. I fully trust him there. We may end up with a few “Kobe moments” where he gambles a little on the weakside and ends up out of position, but I think the positive tradeoffs are worth it.

    12. The Strong Side Zone (or whatever you want to call it) worked great. For the season, the Lakers were the sixth best defensive team in points per possession in the league. That is the most telling stat — at the end of the day the Lakers and the other team will have the same number of possessions, the same number of trips down the court, and whoever uses them most efficiently wins. The Lakers were a good defensive team — eighth in eFG% against, sixth in creating turnovers, sixth in not fouling. The only real “weakness” (the Lakers were middle of the pack in the NBA on this) was giving up offensive rebounds. I think a healthy Bynum and having Artest in the lineup can change that.

    Plus, in the playoffs, the Lakers did a great job getting stops with that defense when they needed it. Does it have weaknesses? Sure, every defense does. Every defense has issues if a PG is breaking you down off the dribble. Every defense has issues when the players ignore it or their rotations. But the Lakers defense — both by basic win/loss results, and the stats — was on the whole good last year.

    Oh, and there also was the most important stat of all — lots of taco nights. (That is not nothing, by the way, the Lakers play at a pretty fast pace and they still kept a lot of teams under 100.)

  54. @50

    …?

  55. One odd thought about this off-season — it feels like a baseball offseason to me. In the sense that if there is a big free agent in baseball, you know that one of five big-market powerhouses are going to be in the running. The rich always get richer, and KC or Pitt feel like farm teams for the big city clubs.

    That often is not the case in the NBA, but it is this summer. LA, Cleveland, Boston, San Antonio, Orlando all make moves to help make a run at a title, teams that were already in the mix. Everyone else is not really spending or trying to get in.

  56. sorry for the nitpicking on the details but there are too many generalizations and cover ups in this post… artest is not a good passer or playmaker.. and in fact can be a blackhole with his dribbling.. . luke walton is not athletic and sasha does not have the size to cover 3s.

    i agree theres tons of upside to this trade.. but we also have to accept there could be tremendous pitfalls instead of glossing over the facts. sure many of these may be mitigated with strong leadership.. and i surely hope so.. but we can only hope right now.

    i do see one other upside though.. ronron’s offensive inefficiency may have a good effect on kobe.. watching him eating up shot clock and jacking up contest jumpers will force kobe to be more efficient in his own game.. because he can’t tell ronron to play within the offense if he himself isn’t doing so.. and having ronron around is also a new challenge for the team as a whole.. hopefully that will mean a renewed sense of hunger for the coming season.

    im sick of hearing about artest though.. whats happening with odom!!!???

  57. Why would RonRon post that video? It just says he’s in it for the money and not really for the ring.. I’m taken aback. And as mentioned earlier, Lakers fans need to stop being so down on Artest. He’s gonna be OUR guy, so embrace and celebrate him. He seems like a guy who could really thrive off of fan support, so as fans of the team we could only help it by cheering him.

  58. Good to see my brother Warren posting all the way from the Philippines. Some great words of wisdom.

    Years ago, Warren was the first one to point out the luxury tax nightmare facing the Lakers in the future–especially after they signed Gasol. It became clear that one major salary would have to disappear (most likely Lamar)–and even then luxury tax would be a problem. That nightmare has not gone away, but the Lakers have taken some extraordinary steps already to cope–and possibly keep Lamar.

    The trades of Chris Mihm and especially Radmanovic were “not so disguised” salary dumps, leaving the Lakers with an expiring contract with Ammo and a free agent contract with ShanWOW for this season. If they sign ShanWOW, they still have an option to trade an expiring contract for Jordan Farmar at mid season this year. Both for Morrison’s own sake and the Lakers, if Ammo develops through this season, he may find a new home and an ongoing contract mid season. If not, the Lakers can reduce their burden for next year at about the level of an MLE.

    Meanwhile, the salary cap has been lowered, raising the amount of luxury tax penalty the Lakers will have to pay.

    What’s the point of all this? Artest is a versatile enough player so that the Lakers can lose both Trevor and Ariza and be very competitive.

    Fortunately, it is extremely unlikely that Lamar will be offered more than the MLE by another team. Portland, one of the few teams that can offer $9 or $10 million, doesn’t seem to want a player like Lamar.

    However, if Lamar would receive such an offer, the Lakers may let him go unless he accepts the “home team” discount to stay with the Lakers at the MLE. He may not even get a term of three years.

    Keep in mind that even $6 million–all over the luxury tax–costs the Lakers $12 million. Paying Lamar $10 million would cost them $20 million–more than Pau Gasol.

    I’d beg Lamar’s agent to call Mitch ASAP for that home town MLE.

  59. Darius, this may be your greatest Post yet here at FB&G, lot’s of X’s and O’s analyst, good stuff indeed, love it. I am excited about the upcoming season for sure and can not wait to see the new Lakers in action. So Trevor was really option A, that is good to hear, but Mitch covered the situation just fine in my book. Yeah, fasten your seatbelts and roll up the windows folks, get ready for a wild ride indeed this year.

  60. 1. Great article Darius. Very thoughtful. Unbiased commentary from a Laker fan is pleasure to read.

    2. Ariza was loved by Laker fans and is always going to be remembered for his amazing postseason performance.

    3. I’m interested to see what Artest’s presense is going to do for the lakers on the defensive end as far as making plays (steals/blocks/turnovers/altered shots). Assuming Artest will lockdown his area or man, will his presense force the other teams to take care of the ball better? Which teammates will his presense help the most? Is it his presense or his actual play that will shine?

    I always thought that other teams underestimated Ariza’s long arms and presense on the defensive end which led to Ariza being able to come from the weak side and jump the passing lane to get some unexpected steals. Ariza performed better than anticipated. Artest will help the lakers on defense, but how? Will Artest’s reputation as a defender force other teams to focus on his presense and draw attention away from Kobe and allow Kobe to roam on defense?

    4. It will take time for Artest to mesh with the Lakers and for the Lakers to play their best.

    I can’t wait!
    ???

  61. This is a bit off topic, but i’ve heard a few of the posters here comment on the Celtics and Rasheed, the ball does not lie, Wallace.

    No disrespect meant to Wallace or the celtics, but they are OLD. They are the grandpa’s of the NBA family. KG is what, 34? Pierce is 34? Allen is 34? Wallace is 37? This is an old, old old team. While KG is one of the most skilled players i’ve ever seen, I do not know how he will return from a SERIOUS knee injury at his age. Allen is playing pretty well and hasn’t really lost much. Paul Pierce has dramatically decreased in ability. It’s not even close to last year’s championship level.

    Wallace has fallen off a cliff. I used to love RAsheed’s game, but this last year he simply sucked it up.

    In total, i highly doubt that the celtics will be effective next year. In fact, i guarantee that the cavs and the magic will be ahead of the celtics.

    PS: take my “gaurantees” with a grain of salt, lol.

  62. kaveh – 58

    During this coming season they will be:
    Wallace – 35, his numbers the last 3 years have been some of the lowest for him, but not horrible.
    KG – 33, numbers are still pretty good, but his return from a bad knee is a big question mark.
    Pierce – 32, still good numbers.
    Allen – 34, still good numbers.

    Don’t underestimate them.
    Yes, Wallace is not the player he used to be at Portland or the first 3 years at Detroit, but he’s not useless yet.
    KG’s injury is their big question mark.
    And the quality of their bench.

  63. On another non-artest note, how good would it be to re-sign Shannon Brown? I think that this next season IS THE SEASON to replace Fisher. Farmar and or Shannon Brown should be starting with Fisher coming off of the bench. Even though I like Brown as the PG for the lakers in the long term, for next year i think that it should be farmar. This guy is a very good PG. He should be starting in the NBA. HE is a confidence guy. I remember the Houston game when Fisher was suspended. Farmar played an incredible game as the Lakers won #3 in Houston.

    With Farmar playing his best, the Lakers are a far superior team. With Shannon in their at guard, the lakers are again a far superior team. When will PJ tell Fisher: “sorry old fella. it’s time. you’re coming off the bench.”

  64. Admittedly Fisher has slowed down, and his minutes have to go down somehow but I do not see a reason why he should not start. The first minutes are still very important for any game. Shannon Brown and Farmar should get more responsability and minutes, though. I am especially fond of Farmar. If he keeps improving his jumpshots and gets used to the responsability, his head should cool down progressively.

  65. In the video of Artest as a Pacer pulling Pierce’s shorts, the commentator says that Artest allows the least points as a player in the league. No wonder he won DPOY.

    Artest scored 17pts a game last season. Thats double Ariza pts.

    Artest is better post player off and def.

  66. Drray,

    “What’s the point of all this? Artest is a versatile enough player so that the Lakers can lose both Trevor and Ariza and be very competitive.”

    I’m sure you meant… Ariza = Odom …But we get the drift. I hope Trevor and Ariza the best of luck. And Hopefully we can sign Lamar and Odom.

  67. plan9

    The quality of Paul Peirce has suffered dramatically in my opinion. I’m not arguing that his numbers show it –i’m arguing if you look at the end of the playoffs against the magic/bulls, he cannot possibly compare to the player who played against the lakers in last year’s finals.

    You can tell that Pierce has fallen off his game. This will continue to get worse. He is no longer a star in this league.

  68. Armond,
    Artest alos has long arms and suprisingly quick jands. He will pick up quite a few steals and deflections.

  69. I think that the Celtics signing Sheed was brillant. They have to compete now with the overhauled Cavs and if somehow the Magic can make it back.

    I still think if we can sign LO and with the addition of Artest that we are in the driver’s seat regardless of what other teams do.

    Now is the time!

  70. If I could make some generalized comments on Ron.

    He can play the 2,3 or 4. But who’s the SF when he goes to the 4? Walton? That line-up is going to be slow.
    This is one of the biggest changes Ron will bring the Lakers-team speed has decreased significantly.

    One of the reasons Hou didn’t make signing Ron a priority is he constantly screamed at the young Hou points for the ball. Adelman would tell him to stop-and he would for a couple of games,then start again. Expect similar issues if Ron is on court while Kobe gets a rest.

    Ron is a ball stopper. He has limited court awareness and sees only the obvious plays and doesn’t have that special anticipation some players have.

    Ron will quickly become a casual fan fav and esp to the courtside fans who are there because it’s the place to be.
    Many “purists”,who really love fluid team basketball,will quickly come to despise his bad shots,poor ball movement and inability to see open teammates,then come to begrudgingly accept his occassional winning plays-improbable 3pts,sudden steals-and finally get bludgeoned into a dull acceptance.

    Ron’s reputation proceeds him w/officials. He gets T’d for stuff he should never get a T for. This tempers his play,so on-ccourt he is not the enforcer so many think he is. In the reg season when any minor scuffles broke out,Ron was there immediately-to pull the Rocket player out of it,not to confront the other team.
    (The only time all last season Ron went into Crazy-Ron mode was when HE took a Kobe elbow. He first ran to officials,then ran at Kobe and did his little talk-but he NEVER actually touched Kobe!)

    In the deja vu department,last yr Ron said pretty much the same things coming to Hou,everybody wrote stories on how he matured and just wanted to help win,blah,blah,blah. He was coming to play for his favorite coach,one he’d said he’d play for free,and the team had two long-time friends,all of which was going to be a successful support system. By mid-season the team was actively trying to trade him. The behind-the-scenes drama really takes a toll of all involved.

    Good Luck.

  71. Stephen those are my concerns as well. I hope that it works out, and it very well could work out great, but I am still worried that it might not. It seems like an odd move for the champions to make. My guess is that Mitch just did not want to deal with Lee anymore after he went public claiming that the Lakers did not want to pay Ariza, so when Arterst became available he went for it.

  72. Stephen–There are a few key things that make the situation of Artest going to LA different than Artest going to Houston.

    1) Offense v Defense

    When the Rockets acquired Ron, they were already an elite defensive team with a player (Battier) capable of defending elite wing players as well as anyone in the league. What they lacked, with T-Mac so often injured (and even when healthy) was another player that could create his own shot. So in getting Ron, I was struck that their interest was more in his offense than his defense. The situation is completely reversed for the Lakers. They will clearly value his defense more than his offense. Not to say the Lakers were a bad defensive team last year, but Ron addresses a clear need: defending stronger 3s. It always seemed weird to me that Houston was bringing in a player for a position where they were already very solid.

    2. Alpha Dog

    I think there are only a handful of players that Ron actually thinks are better, more valuable to their team than he is (which is crazy, but there you have it). Kobe is one of them. Yao and T-Mac were not. I’m sure Ron respected those guys, but at the end of the day he saw himself as just as important. Nor was it likely that Yao or T-Mac were ever going to get in his face and demand that he pass the ball. In LA I think we have at least 3 people that are better suited to reign in Ron in this respect–Kobe, Fisher and PJ.

    3. Luke

    Ron is obviously 2-3 times the player that Luke is, but the Lakers are still a very , very good team with Luke on the floor. LA can afford to bench Ron more readily than Houston (or Sac or Ind before) could.

    Now all that said, I’m also worried that this move could cause more problems than it solves. I would have preferred to keep TA. But the factors above are reasons I’m less worried than I might be otherwise. But maybe I’m still seeing everything through off-season P&G glasses. Let’s check back in next January for a reassessment.

  73. This Artest deal has Phil’s fingerprints all over it. Phil prides himself on getting the max out of “challenging” players. Phil – and Buss – have the ego to think this will work. Let’s hope they are right. They were dead wrong about Gary Peyton. And, Buss was dead wrong about Isiah Rider.

    BY adding Artest and subtracting Ariza, the Lakers in one stroke got slower and older, not to mention stranger. When is that good for a basketball team?

    I doubt Ariza’s much maligned agent was to blame for this turn of events. In fact, I suspect he started sounding off after he saw the game being played by the Lakers FO.

  74. 66 Texas Rob,

    Thanks! Even with my muddle headed ways, I’m glad you could see Lamar was on my mind.

    Phil Jackson in his careful way made this same point on a radio interview a few days ago. He pointed out how few contracts were being offered to any free agents under terms typical years ago, and hoped Lamar would finally be willing to accept an offer from the Lakers within the resources that the Lakers have–or something like that.

    If Lamar gets $8 or $9 million for three years from anyone, I would be very surprised.

  75. Pssst, I found Danny Ainge’s secret notebook:

    … the three elderly All Stars won us the title. Therefore, the next steps:

    1. sign Rasheed Wallace.
    2. re-sign Marbury
    3. sign Grant Hill
    4. sign Iverson
    5. call Allan Houston
    6. send out investigators to see if Francis and Shareef Abdur-Rahim are still alive

    And I shall call my team the “Millenium All-Stars”. Oh wait, the “Last Millenium All-Stars”.

  76. @54 … Sober since July 06, clean since last Monday.

  77. Great stuff as always, Darius.

    In terms of the SSZ, I wonder how much of that defense was implemented for the purpose of maximizing the strengths of the roster and minimizing their deficiencies. Ariza’s abilities in the passing lanes were ideal for the SSZ, especially considering that his man defense was still a work in progress at the beginning of last year. (he improved in this respect)

    While we won’t have much roster turnover (assuming Odom re-signs), the two players that we added since the beginning of last season, Artest & Brown, are superb on-the-ball defenders, and I would anticipate that we play more of a conventional defense as a result. Or at least more often.

    Simply put, while it’s incumbent upon Artest to fit in, it’s also the responsibility of our coaching staff to maximize his abilities.

  78. Folks – don’t write off Wallace, Pierce, KG, Allen and Co. While they may be “old” by basketball terms, they have each proven that they have what it takes to beat this Laker team in the finals. Personally, I think the addition of Wallace makes a Wallace, Pierce, KG, Allen and Rondo lineup very scary – and a tough match up for the Lakers, Orlando, Cavs and Spurs.

    The Lakers have no choice now but to resign Lamar AND Brown. That’s what it will take to make this team competitive against these other teams that are loading up.

  79. Since Boston has come up several times, here are my two cents:

    *’Sheed gives them a very good front court rotation (assuming a healthy KG). He is a swing player that can play PF next to Perkins or C next to KG. This makes Baby a bit more expendable, though I’d want to retain him just because I’d rather play him than play Scalabrine.

    *Despite ‘Sheed, Boston is still going to be a perimeter oriented team. Most of their offense is going to come from Pierce and Allen with KG being the main post player. It will be interesting to see how Rondo plays next season after 1). having such a good post season where he took on a much bigger load of the offense and 2). after having his name come up in countless trade rumors.

    *I’m very interested in seeing who steps up as their other wing stopper. Pierce has been playing very strong defense the past two seasons, but who is going to replace Posey? They thought it would be Tony Allen and it’s not. Will they sign another defensive wing? I like Grant Hill, but he’s not that guy. Can they get Barnes? Bowen (who is way past his prime, but can still provide spot minutes)? I think they really need that other wing defender with the versatility to guard 2-3 positions.

    *I think Boston, like those other Spurs teams, found out how hard it is to repeat. But I am by no means counting them out. Most of those guys had never played that deep into the playoffs before and playing 200 games over two seasons is really tiring. Pierce especially looked gassed – especially since he had so much responsibility after KG went down. But, I do think they’ll be ready to contend again this season. ‘Sheed is the perfect foil for Shaq and for Howard as he can defend them quite well (good lower body strength + excellent length) while exploiting their defensive tendency to want to protect the hoop. Can he make the jumpers on those pick and pops? If he can, those teams are going to have a matchup issue.

  80. @50

    Dex: keep it up, my man. Love your posts.

  81. Re: Boston. I really think San Antonio and the Celtics are in the same spot — if their roster is healthy and somewhat rested going into the playoffs, they will be a formidable challenge. While health is a concern for every team, with their rosters it is especially true. I get the feeling it will be the big six in the NBA next year — LA, SA, Denver, Boston, Cleveland and Orlando. A couple teams (Portland?) will be close, but after that the drop off will be pretty big.

    And I’d like to credit Dallas for paying J Kidd almost exactly what Devin Harris is making for the next three years.

  82. I think Joel and Burgundy may be on to something about Artest’s “mental” episodes in the past… remember Kobe’s behavior after the 2004-05 season? The rants against team mates, the trade demands, the open anger with the organization… remember what he used to say about Shaq’s work ethic and level of effort?

    By all accounts, Artest works very hard and is as obsessive a competitor as Kobe is. Maybe what we’ve seen from him in the past is what Kobe would have been if he had not been lucky enough to be on the roster of a team that is so good that its fans expect them to at the very least go to the Conference Finals every year, and see it as a failure when they don’t.

    Maybe, just maybe, those previous “mental” episodes were a combination of immaturity and acute frustration at being stuck on a team that has no chance of winning anything…? And maybe the fact that he was willing to take a paycut to come play with Phil and Kobe for the reigning champions is further indication of that? He wants a ring, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to get one.

    I hope so. I don’t know, but I really hope so. But as you can perhaps tell, I’m kind of starting to warm up to the guy. If he just behaves himself and can fit into the current system (with some adjustment from the rest of the team), this might well work out.

    Either way, whether I can talk myself into liking him or not, he’s on the team now. For good or bad, we are stuck with him.

    And can anyone say they are not looking forward to the first Lakers-Cavs game of next season now? Kobe vs Shaq AND Lebron, with a strong stubborn defender that can actually take on His Kingship, and who isn’t the least bit afraid of doing so. Ariza is at least two weight classes below Lebron and would have been abused by him, for that reason. Artest on the other hand… that will be fun to watch. :)

  83. Just to make sure, I think the Celtics are going to be really good, possibly coming out of the East good, with this rotation.

    I just find it an interesting concept to assemble the team in that manner. While it seemed to become a trend for slightly declining veterans to join contenders (Finley, Brent Barry, also Malone and Payton) with a more varied age structure, maybe Boston can be successful adding still hungry but declining veterans looking for one more title shot to a team consisting of mostly these type of players already.

  84. If the Lakers can resign Odom… then there is no point talking about another team other than the Lakers because LA would be the head and shoulders better than any other team in the NBA and maybe of any squad in the post expansion era.

  85. 84. Wow, that’s an overstatement. Maybe we should play a few games before we decide they are the mid-90s Bulls.

  86. Ariza now might go to the cavs!!

  87. Its easy after watching them play to see… the fun is trying to predict… that takes talent. Anyone can wait till they will 75 games to say they are the best.

  88. We still have a ton of question marks even IF we are able to resign LO.

    -Will Bynum return to have a monster season that we all had hoped for last year, but was cut short by injury again?

    -Can we resign ShanWOW as we have to address the PG problem sooner rather than later?

    -Will this be the season that Kobe breaksdown? He has so many games and the last two years has put un unbelievable milage that you can already start to see the slippage in his explosiveness.

    -Will RonRon really be able to mesh well with the team? Will his shot selection improve and will he be the passer that he is purported to be?

    -Can Phil’s health hold up another grueling season?

    -Will Sasha ever make another 3 pointer in a game? (Sure he is the Machine in practice, but come on now…)

    Lots of question marks for us going into the season, it will be a fun one to watch.

  89. Not to mention wrong thread. Kee-rist, fireflies and faires & Rottweilers. Apologies to Darius. Kudos to the same. I’d not thought of Artest being rejuv for Phil, but had thought Phil would need rejuv after climbing past Red; great point; great point. Another interesting angle, one that many non-batty Forum Blue & Golders have addressed: the idiotic MJ-Kobe debate, as opposed to discussion; if Kobe brings Artest to heel, and I believe that he will, so take two: when Kobe brings Artest to heel, but not through sheer slavering intimidation, but through that and what is never acclaimed in Kobe but what is there, and what wasn’t in MJ, sympathy, sympathy for the one branded bah bah black sheep from the get-go — which would not be sympathy, but the opposite, if not for Fisher’s (thank God for Fish!) ministrations when Kobe was young; when Kobe brings Artest to heel, and helps not hinders him & hugely thanks to this Artest realizes his potential: that’s the right stuff.

  90. Coby Karl’s playing for the Celtics summer league team? I hope he makes it (I think he has the talent to be a rotation player on the right team), just not with the Celtics. Then I’d have to hate him.

  91. 88,
    Every team has question marks. The Lakers have the fewest question marks on a team I have ever seen in recent memory.

  92. … recent history

  93. Agreed (Aaron), but I was merely pointing out that although I am very confident about our chances, it’s just a little early to declare the 3 peat, let alone a back to back championship.

  94. Anybody watch the Summer League games right now?

  95. I ask that everyone remember this optimism in this post about our becoming a dynasty when we lose back to back games in February to Charlotte and Atlanta, because you know it’s going to happen.

  96. Josh McRoberts has a pretty good handle for a man his size.

  97. 11 Quick predictions for next year (too match up with Phil’s 11th title as coach):

    1) The Addition of ‘Sheed will put the Celtics back in the Finals – this will be their last “run” before age (Pierce, Allen, KG, & ‘Sheed) and internal combustion (Rondo) take their course.

    2) The Spurs will get to the Western Conference Finals with RJ – which will be their last hurrah, as currently constructed.

    3) Denver will still be good, but not quite as good as last year – last year was kind of their Lakers in ’08 year where everything kind of came together and they went on a hot streak. Next year, they won’t be able to match that same level – out in Round 2.

    4) Orlando will be a good regular season team, but will flame out in the Post Season as they discover they sorely miss the Turk’s crunch time abilities (as they find out that Vince is great when you’re up by 20 in February – not so great when it’s a tie game with 2 minutes left in May).

    5) Detroit will be awful.

    6) Shaq will miss no less than 25 games next year with various injuries (no Phoenix training staff to fall back on). Cleveland will drop to the 3rd or 4th seed. However, once the playoffs start, they will present matchup issues for their opponents as Shaq motivates himself for one last push…only to lose in 7 games to the Celtics in the ECF as age and infirmity catch up to him.

    7) Clippers will take “quitting on your coach” to new levels next year.

    8) Trevor Ariza will fall back down to earth as defenders run him off the three point line as he’ll no longer be afforded wide open shots from playing with Kobe Bryant. His 47% from three mark will seem like a mirage as his season average dips down to the low 30′s. Media members will wonder what happened to the Trevor Ariza from the Laker’s playoff run by February. He will have a pit in his stomach thinking about LA and what could have been.

    9) David Lee’s client roster will remain at 3.

    10) Ron Artest will integrate smoothly into the Laker’s lineup. They will suffer their normal mid-season hiccup – but once the playoffs begin, the Lakers will start mowing teams down. Shannon Brown’s smothering defense on Tony Parker in the WCF will be the straw the broke camel’s back for the Spurs and their otherwise successful season will end in 5 games.

    11) The Lakers will face Boston and exact their revenge as Pierce faces the stark reality that facing Ron Artest is much more difficult than going against Vlad Radmanovic. The front courts of the teams (KG, Sheed, Perk v. Gasol, Odom, & Bynum) will play to a relative standstill. Boston will win the point guard battle with Rondo, but thanks to Shannon Brown’s beligerant defense, it will be must closer than it could have been. A motivated Kobe won’t have to deal with James Posey or a relatively fresh Paul Pierce. He’ll be facing a tag team of Ray Allen and a physically exhausted Paul Pierce.

    I like Kobe’s chances in that scenario.

  98. 97,
    Amazing. Lol… I think you might be right on most of your predictions. And I love the Shannon Brown predictions. I think he is the Lakers best PG.

  99. … but that isn’t saying much :(

  100. @Zephid
    I promise to do my very very best to remember.

    @Burgundy
    Those are both beautiful and hilarious. I’m not sure whether to laugh or to wholeheartedly agree with you! :D

    I do agree on the Magic missing Turk, on the Cavs not getting nearly what they paid for from Shaq, and on the Clippers. They are so sad they’re not even funny anymore… there’s got to be a mercy rule somewhere that can prevent ANYONE from being drafted or traded to the Clippers except as punishment.

    The lack of news on Odom’s contract status is slowly killing me…! There’s got to be some news!

  101. amazing snibbet from PJ’s interview this afternoon:

    “Last year after the devastating loss in game 6 to the Boston Celtics, Ron Artest came in our locker and walked in the shower with Kobe Bryant. Kobe’s there taking a shower – and this is a locker room the coaches have, it’s off limits – so, Ron said, ‘Coach, I can help your team, I can get that championship for the Lakers.’ I said, ‘Well, thanks Ron, that’s very nice, I appreciate your sympathies. We’ll see what happens as you go through this year.’ Then, he walked out of that coaches’ area, and in to the shower and told Kobe the same thing. Kobe’s been knowing Ron’s intentions for the last two years… He didn’t soap down Kobe and he didn’t towel him off, I’m not saying that.”

    you can get it all here:
    http://sportsradiointerviews.com/2009/07/06/phil-jackson-ron-artest-jumped-in-the-shower-with-kobe/

  102. *snippet

  103. From RicBucher’s twitter:

    Latest on LO and Portland: Blazers not interested, according to a source.

  104. I do not agree with the lakers giving up ariza for artest.. can artest stay in the game… if they make it to the playoffs will he go overboard on t’s? If something isn’t broke don’t fix it.. all that can happen now is the lakers can fall apart.. with ariza they have a solid young team that i do not see falling apart.. with out him and with artest i see a chemical combustion of egos coming.. please prove me wrong!!!

  105. Great stuff here and no need to continue to echo many of the same points.

    But I do want to point out that the lack of news about LO is probably a good thing. Let’s look at this through the prism of the Lee/Ariza situation.

    What if LO’s agent is quietly shopping offers. He probably has an offer in hand from Lakers around the rumored 24/3yr mark. Mitch probably gave the same scenario to LO’s agent. Here’s our offer, see what you can get on the open market and come back to us to talk.

    LO is probably happy with the Lakers offer but his agent is counseling him to be patient and see if he can drum up a competing offer to drive the Lakers up another mill a year or tack on another year. Lakers probably are willing to do that but not without some kind of competing offer.

    LO and his agent aren’t making waves, LO would probably be happy with the current offer but wouldn’t mind more.

    He and his agent are approaching this the professional way. Pure guesswork on my part of course. But I’m trying to be optimistic about the lack of news.

  106. By the way – I meant for that smiley face to be a #8 – sorry about that.

    Also, I truly hope Shannon Brown is playing big minutes once the playoffs start because that will mean the Lakers found a worthy successor to Fish.

    In the lineup the Lakers will be trotting out next year, the point guard’s job will be to play hard-nosed on-ball defense, and connect on 40% of the wide-open threes he is afforded. I think Shannon Brown can deliver on that and throw in a dunk on a break-away each game for good measure!

  107. http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/stats?playerId=25

    Look at Ron’s personal foul avg per game and technical fouls. He got less technicals than Kobe for the season (4 to KB’s 11) and averaged slightly less personal fouls (2.2) than Kobe (2.3) while playing just one minute less on average. He’s been ejected out of a game ONCE in the last SIX years. I think it’s safe to say Ron can stay on the court.

  108. Stephan # 70

    Your post misses some obvious points.

    1) You do not need to knee people in the balls and slice their throats in order to be an “enforcer” in basketball. You don’t need T’s in order to be so. Toughness is through being a bruiser. When the ball is in the air or loose, or when you are boxing someone out. This is where people are “tough” or “enforcers.” Especially in playoff basketball.

    A true sign of toughness isn’t how many technical or flagrant fouls you get. The toughness comes out because people simply do not want to go down low and get that rebound against you. Or they just do want to venture into the paint for that layup.

    Artest is 6’7″ and listed as 260lb. I think that he is undoubtedly heavier, but let’s just assume 260. This is with minimal fat and a hard ass attitude. This guy is a BEAST. You will not find a more intimidating linebalker in all of football. Furthremore his attitude is where the toughness comes from.

    Carmelo was single handedly DESTROYING us in the playoffs. Whether going to the basket or getting offensive rebounds. He was simply too powerful for Kobe and Ariza was like a flee on his back. Lebron would be the same. Against Artest, these guys are the flees. Are they going to push Artest out of the way for a rebound down low? Are they going to back Artest down?

    There are a lot of things you can say regarding Artest. I just can’t believe that you chose the one thing on which even his detractors agree on —that he makes his team “tougher.”

  109. #90 Kobe Carl, etc.

    I remember when i was in highschool my buddy was dating George Carl’s daughter, and we’d be over at the Carl’s house regularly. Kobe Carl was still half my size back then as he was a little brat, but he always had a basketball in his hand. I never thought that the kid could possibly play in the NBA.

    I’m rooting for him as well.

  110. Any opinion on how this may affect Pau’s game? The guy made the most of the very few shots per game he got last year, no doubt in my mind because PJ brain-washed him into concentrating on proving everyone he’s not soft, and not worrying about offense so much (plus the guy has the talent to make much from little, to be sure). However, now he has a ring and he’s been told repeatedly how everyone was so wrong about him, he’s really not soft at all, etc, etc, so now he’ll probably want to enjoy a bit more his star status & rights, demanding more attention on offense.

    The guy actually has a huge ego, only in LA he has shown his best side, I guess due in part to playing with Kobe, and again to PJ’s genius mind games selling him the role of high IQ player -therefore cool & collected-, but he did complain in the middle of the playoffs about the lack of touches. Now Artest will inevitably mean even less of those for Gasol, or will it?

    What think you? A source of chemistry problems lurking in an unexpected corner?

  111. #111. aticodejon,
    I am not sure how Ron’s acquisition will affect Pau. One of the main principles of the Triangle is to make post entries, so I think Pau will get plenty of touches. On one hand, I could see Ron shooting more than Ariza and those shots have to come at the expense of someone. However, those shots could be shots at the expense of Kobe or Bynum, not just Pau. On the other hand, Artest is a much bigger offensive threat than Ariza (or any other SF we have had on our roster). So, in that sense, this may create more looks for Pau as he may see less double teams and have more space to operate as help defenders stay home on Kobe/Artest/etc more often than they did last season. In the end, like I said, I do think Pau will remain a focal point of our offense as he is our best post player.