My first thoughts being, "Why in the hell would you trade a player that made several vital plays throughout your championship run, that is the glue that held the machine together, for a egotistical troublemaker?!"
Then, I took some time to actually think on this recent transaction. And this is what I came up with.
Just like any sport, basketball is a game of strengths and weakness, or how to utilize your strengths, and how to exploit the other team's weaknesses. So let's compare Artest and
Great defender, especially on the inbound
Excellent 3 point shooter
Good ball-handling skills
Great in transition offense
Humble, great team-player
One of the primer defenders in the league
Excellent 3 point shooter
Has a good drive to the hoop
Strong tendency to dribble too much
If not kept on a leash, will shoot the ball way to much
Always tries to be the star (monster ego)
As far as strengths and weakness go, talent wise these two players have a similar game except Artest is the better defender and Ariza accepts his role as a role-player while Artest has to always be the star of the team.
One problem with that. Kobe is the undisputed star of the Los Angeles Lakers. Artest is dreaming if he thinks he can take any of the spotlight off Kobe. I get the sense with Artest that he is in it for himself, and not for the team, which could cause some problems with Phil Jackson's triangle offense.
However, with this trade we gain a better defender, a similar "catch-and-shoot" 3 point shooter, and a personality that could potentially add more toughness and grit. So, I guess the only question that remains if coach Phil Jackson can tame Artest's ego.
Phil does have a good track record though. Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan both were very selfish, ball-hogging, self-absorbed players when they first came into the league and was able instill in them a team-first mentality.
It did take him several years, and nobody's getting any younger. But if anyone could do it, Phil can. And with the re-signing of Lamar Odom, LA now has a starting line-up consisting of: Derek Fisher/Jordan Farmar, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Pau Gasol/Lamar Odom, and Andrew Bynum. I can't think of a team in the Western Conference that can match-up in any way.
One other thing to point out is that Kobe Bryant and Ron Artest absolutely despise each other. So if they can put their differences to the side for the good of the team, I expect the Lakers in the Finals for next couple seasons.
SIDE NOTE: I do feel sorry for Ariza. He just went to a team on the downward swirl. They just lost Yao Ming, probably for good, and one of their main scorers (Artest). Ariza has a lot to offer but LeBron just proved you can't do it all by yourself.
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