From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: Over the last 12 seasons, the Lakers and Spurs have combined for nine NBA championships, 21 seasons with a winning percentage of .600 or better, and a grand total of one losing campaign. They’re easily the two most successful franchises in the NBA over that time. It’s not even a competition. In some ways, the franchises, who have met in the postseason six times since ’99 and swapped their share of iconic moments, couldn’t be more diametrically opposed. The Lakers are by design part basketball team, part Hollywood attraction, playing in front of star-studded crowds at home and sold out arenas on the road. Phil Jackson has been the NBA’s highest profile coach for about two decades. Kobe Bryant may no longer be the lightning rod for controversy he was as a younger player, but is hardly a wallflower. Dude jumps over cars, rides horses, and sells everything from watches to tasty beverages to airlines. Tim Duncan, on the other hand, has made a life’s pursuit out of vanillafying himself, operating with a sort of low-key, ruthless efficiency appropriate for a franchise never demonstrating much interest in having people pay attention to them.
From Janis Carr, OC Register: Lakers forward Ron Artest said Wednesday that he is not seeking a trade, calling untrue an online report that stated he wanted out of L.A. “I didn’t read it,” Artest said after his extra shooting session at the Lakers’ training facility in El Segundo. “We lost a couple of games and papers are probably writing a bunch of stories that aren’t true.“ But are you looking to be traded? “No, definitely not,” he said. “I feel good every day. We’ve got a chance to win multiple championships here…trying to work towards another banner. “…I’m not frustrated, no matter what happens out there. It’s part of the game.” ESPN.com reported that an unnamed source claimed Artest, unhappy with his role on the Lakers, would be willing to put himself on the trading block, if General Manager Mitch Kupchak was looking to deal players. Kupchak recently said that he would look into a possible trade to energize the Lakers before the Feb. 24 trade deadline.
From Dexter Fishmore, Silver Screen and Roll: I think we can all agree this hasn’t been an especially stellar season for Ron Artest. His minutes are down. His role in the Laker offense is smaller. His shooting efficiency is down. His rebounds are down. And as Paul Pierce and LeBron James have demonstrated at various points this season, Ron’s struggling to keep up with the high-octane small forward scorers he was signed to stop. How could it possibly get worse? Oh, how about a trade demand from one of the Lakers’ least tradeable players? You probably know by now that ESPN’s Marc Stein is reporting, based on a “source close to the situation,” that Artest wants out. Stein writes that he’s assured Ron wants “to be dealt somewhere he ‘can have fun again'” and that his source isn’t Ron’s goofy brother Daniel.
From Andy Kamenetzky, ESPNLA: For a team pursuing its third straight title, it’s recently been open season on the Los Angeles Lakers. Former player and general manager Jerry West recently told an audience at a car dealership luncheon he felt the Lakers were getting “long in the tooth” and expressed doubt about their ability to be good for much longer. “If there’s a loose ball now, how often do they get to it? The reason you can’t play defense is because you can’t,” West said. After back-to-back losses at home, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said he’d be open to making a trade, and Magic Johnson seconded both opinions while attending a news conference to announce the naming rights for Farmers Field, the potential downtown football stadium near L.A. Live.
From Sekou Smith’s Hangtime Blog: David Aldridge: The latter. Watching them Sunday, he had no choice. Artest was on Pluto, and KG did yeoman work keeping Pau Gasol from his favorite spots, and Kendrick Perkins was able to body up Andrew Bynum without help. Now, I think by the playoffs, Bynum will have his legs under him, and that will make a big difference. But now, if Gasol isn’t rolling, the Lakers are a one-man show. It’s still a great show, by the way. Steve Aschburner: I used to be as vigilant as any Kobe critic for those nights, weeks or months when he would neglect his Lakers teammates and force things. Or worse, when he would bullheadedly pass … and pass and pass to prove a point. But now Bryant only “hogs” the ball as a reaction to insufficient help from his mates. Michael Jordan would have slapped one or two of these guys by now on the practice floor.