We've signed Artest to a 3 year deal for around 6 million a year. Same deal that was offered to Ariza, which he decided was not good enough. Instead he signed with Houston for essentially the same money, but for two more years. What is that, $12 million more guaranteed, for two more years of work? Fantastic job Ariza and friends! Not only did you fail to stay on a championship team, you didn't get a better contract for it. That is, unless you thought this was last contract you'd ever get. The peak of Trevor Ariza as a basketball player: 5 years, mid level exception contract, when he's still 24?
I tend to think more highly of Ariza than apparently he, and everyone around him, thinks. I posit that after the 3 years the Lakers offered him, he could have easily gotten another contract. Considering this, why spurn the Lakers and go to Houston?
The only saving grace I can hope for is that we don't know the whole story. Maybe the Lakers disrespected Ariza. Maybe there are other incentives in Houston. Maybe we were considering putting him back on the bench (remember, he's a bench player?). Whatever the reason, I am sad that Ariza isn't in LA anymore. His hustle was fantastic, he played within himself and did all the right things. Perfect role player. Best of luck in Houston.
Let's get to what matters now: Ron Artest. On the surface I'm a bit hesitant. Ron did show maturity while in Houston, but sometimes a little bit of the crazy came out, like his running up to Kobe after a play. These things are not helpful, and hopefully he can tone it down. With Kobe and Phil leading the team, Artest will be under fiercest and smartest leaders in the game today. They will keep him in line.
Basketball skill wise, I was never convinced of him being all that great. He does play decent defense. The biggest bonus that Artest brings is his toughness. He won't back down from a challenge. He won't back down from a fight. Artest is one of those players that other NBA players are scared to mess with. We can be assured of physicality, trash talking, and a greater "terror" factor.
Finally, 3 years, $6 mil a year? That's like what we'll be paying Luke Walton for the same duration. I'll take it.
I won't say I prefer having Artest to Ariza, but it's hard to not see this making our team better. This isn't like signing Vince Carter in lieu of Turkoglu.