Ron Artest trade evaluation and a few other NBA thoughts

I don't know if you all have been keep count, but every team with the exception of the Phoenix, Charlotte, and Oklahoma City have made roster changes this offseason whether it was through a trade or free agency. Phoenix already made their blockbuster move for Shaq and Oklahoma City moved from Seattle (if you want to count that as a move). Can you remember a time when there were this many roster changes in such a short period of time? As we all know, these have been very significant moves. It all can be traced back to the February Pau Gasol theft by the Lakers. The movement in the NBA currently favors the West, heavily.

The Ron Artest trade contributes to the Western Conference arms race. My initial reaction to this trade is favorable. It shoots the Rockets up to one of the top 3 defensive teams in the league behind Boston and San Antonio. Ron Artest really likes playing for Rick Adelman and it will be interesting to see the different lineup combinations that Adelman throws in there with Battier and Artest eligible to play the small forward. My guess is that they will push Artest up to the 4 at some points of the game to allow Battier and Artest to get in the game at the same time for defensive purposes. Artest might be undersized for play the 4, but he is as strong as they come in the league, and Charles Barkley at 6'5 did not have much trouble playing the 4. The Artest trade immediately put the Rockets at the top half of the Western Conference with the Lakers, Spurs, and Hornets.

With Yao Ming healthy and T-Mac as a go-to scorer coupled with Ron Artest's and Scola's help, it will be a pretty tough matchup every night for any team that goes up against Houston. This takes pressure off of the point guards Alston and Head from having to score in bunches like they had to do a lot last year for the Rockets to be successful. Artest and Battier are an amazing 1-2 punch on defense that can stop the two best players on a team each night, and that is an amazing asset. Few teams have a lockdown defender, but to have 2 of the best defenders in the league is amazing. All of this comes with Artest's clearance sale price tag of just over $7 million dollars. Better yet, if it somehow does not work, they let him go at the end of the season. It does not get much better than that for the Rockets. This will be the year they get past the first round. A friend of mine told me that "they are still the Rockets, and he is still Tracy McGrady." That is true, but their main problem is getting big stops when they need to, and if Yao was playing in the playoffs this past season, it would have been a different story. It will be a much different story when the Rockets can throw a player like Artest and Battier at the other team's best player and make the offensive player work hard on both ends of the floor because Artest is a credible offensive threat.

Jim Rome said that there will be problems with Artest, and if you don't think there will be problems you must be kidding yourself, but I don't see any problems with Artest. He has put those days behind him, and he is a changed person (he is not Michael Vick). Just look at this picture:

He has played for Adelman and has been around Tracy McGrady since their high school days when they played in AAU tournaments and the famous ABCD camp. They complement each other incredibly well and will be able to work well together. Artest will not mind taking a back seat to Yao and T-Mac as long as the team is winning. He knows that his role will change, and he will be able to fit into the offense well. This trade works all the way around for the Rockets and they just sent Bobby Jackson back to Sacramento where he made his career, gave up a good prospect in Donte Green, and a first round pick. That is not too shabby for the Rockets who need success immediately or risk pushing the self destruct button on their team next season, and a Kings team that the Maloofs have been trying to rebuild for years.

Thoughts on Pistons:
I told one of my friends how crazy I think Joe Dumars is for signing Kwame Brown and he used the line that Joe Dumars is one of the best GM's in the league. That might be true, but Kwame Brown being signed on potential is a smoke screen for 'we had $8 mil lying around and decided to sign whatever was left.' I do think Dumars is a good GM, but I do not think that this was a good move. Kwame Brown is unfairly judged because of where he was drafted, not on how good he is. Nonetheless, I haven't seen worse hands on a professional athlete since...I have no clue, Kwame probably has the worst hands I've ever seen, but at least he can still throw cakes. I'm surprised he still has a job in the league because I was sure that he would be done after Memphis. Yeah, maybe I am a little bitter because the Lakers had to live through his horror story, but giving a warning to Detroit fans is the most I can do. He got a significant amount of money for being the backup to Jason Maxiell. In the end, will it improve Detroit? No. Will it hurt them? Only if they pass the ball to him. More in-depth analysis on the Kwame Brown trade here.

Thoughts on Ricky Davis:
The Clippers have gone through an incredible face lift and adding Ricky Davis is putting the final touches on everything. He does shoot the ball almost every time he has it, but he does shoot 40.5% from 3 point range and is a pretty good hustle player. He has a good all around game and will provide the Clippers stacked front line with a little extra firepower. A solid addition for the Clippers and as long as he can find his way in Dunleavy's offense and control his itchy trigger finger, the Clippers will be a solid team.

With the West pretty much set (and a lot more relevant than the East), here are my predictions:
1. Lakers
2. Hornets
3. Rockets
4. Jazz
5. Spurs
6. Blazers
7. Suns
8. Mavs
9. Clippers

*spots 8 and 9 are subject to change.

The room with the Larry O' Brien trophy is getting very dark for the Suns, Spurs, and Mavericks. The quick turnaround by teams like the Lakers, Hornets, and Rockets show what a great league the NBA is and how fast the balance of power can shift with a few good signings, a crafty GM, and a willing owner.


Wow, what a great bet! I couldn't wait to see who would win this one! I can't wait till Gooden and Stevenson make another drunken bet at the pool table this summer!

There is no real story behind this article, but it is just a rare picture of 3 very high profile people at the top of their industry brought together by the game of basketball.

The NBA keeps losing its best to Europe.

Agent Zero's million dollar pool is suppose to be one of the biggest residential pools in America. Life is not too bad when you are Gilbert Arenas.

Kristic probably could have made more if he stayed in the NBA.

College players making money for the corporations and colleges that they play for, and getting paid...zero.

Paul Pierce...are you kidding me?

If you haven't been to the site ibeatyou.com you need to go. A handful of celebrities are on the site including Jessica Alba, Baron Davis, and Steve Nash. The premise of the site might sound a little weird at first, but it is actually a very clever concept. Here is a video of Steve Nash and Baron Davis making a video for the latest competition in Santa Monica for the site.

Picture sources: thebasketballjones.net (first), deadspin.com (second), helpinganimals.com (third), washingtonpost.com (fourth)


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