Should The Lakers Go After Ron Artest?

Friday, December 16, 2005
The Indiana Pacers are trying to trade Ron Artest. For those who don't follow basketball closely, Ron Artest is Indiana's very volatile but very talented forward. In my opinion, Ron Artest is a top 15 player in the league. He is an absolute beast on the defensive end and he has a pretty decent offensive game as well. He has won a Defensive Player of the Year award which is extremely difficult from any perimeter position.

But Ron Artest has his issues. He makes Dennis Rodman look almost sane. He was the main player in the whole Detroit fiasco where he went into the stands to fight the fans. He was the player who asked for some more time off so he could work on his rap album (which by the way flopped). But like in all sports, the more talented you are the more people are willing to forgive you. In fact, it isn't just like that in sports, its like that in all aspects of life.

The question becomes, should the Lakers go after a player like Ron Artest and what should they give up for him if they do pursue him. There is no denying is on-court performance. But is a potential time bomb worth it. If I'm the Los Angeles Lakers, I have to think it is. I say that only because the Lakers have the best coach in the history of the game, Phil Jackson. Players like Ron Artest are few and far between. I greatly value defensive ability and few can bring it to the table like Artest.

But what is he worth? In my mind there are only two untouchable players Kobe (duh) and Lamar Odom. Many pundits however think the Lakers should part with Odom to get Artest. I am not one of those people. Lakers have gone one a decent little run as of late, going 5-1 on a recent 6 game road trip. The team looked horrible at the beginning of the season but seems to have turned it on as of late. If Artest didn't have his head problems, I do the trade in a second. But the fact remains that he does have mental issues which means you just can't depend on him. You can depend on Odom. He is inconsistent scorer but he is by far the Lakers best rebounder and playmaker. He is a matchup nightmare for the opposing team.

Is Artest worth some of the Lakers young players, namely Andrew Bynum? I think Bynum is going to be a great player. For an 18 year old kid, he has shown tremendous ability. But I think this is one instance where the gamble might pay off. There is no doubt that Artest is a top-tier player when his head is on straight (the problem is it is so rarely on straight). Andrew Bynum may never be as good as Artest is right now, so it may be worth the gamble.