Mailbag question: Artest to Lakers… unfair advantage…or handicap?

My friend Rich, who now that he works at home likes to procrastinate as much as me, often wastes time with me emailing back and forth about NBA junk. Here’s our latest exchange:

Rich:

So the Lakers essentially trade Ariza for Artest. Ariza, who is a team roll player with good defense for Artest, a “me-first” guy and team chemistry destroyer with more talent….is this an unfair advantage for the Lakers…or a handicap?

My response:

I like Ariza a bunch and think his skill set is a better fit for the Lakers. But Ariza seemed offended that the Lakers weren’t offering him more than the mid-level, and as great as he was for them, I don’t think he’s really worth more than the mid-level. And then he finally accepted the mid-level from Houston, so I think he kinda shot himself in the foot. If you’re gonna get the same amount of $, wouldn’t you rather play in your home town AND have a great shot at winning more championships? Anyway, when he and his agent started posturing, the Lakes talked to Artest who instantly said yes, so they had to go for him. Anyway, I’m not worried about Ron’s bad-boy persona ‘cuz Phil’s dealt with Rodman so he’s been in this situation before. And I actually think Ron’s a better one-on-one defender than Ariza. Ariza has great length and is great at getting steals, but his one-on-one defense is actually only fair (like when the Lakers played Denver, at times Kobe covered ‘Melo to try & slow him down since Ariza & Walton weren’t that effective). So I think Artest will be much better against the Melos, LeBrons, & Paul Pierces who often like to work in isolation, and that could be huge. My big concern is offense. Will Artest want the ball too much & put up bad shots as he sometimes has in the past? That being said, when he first joined the Rockets he was definitely initially playing 3rd banana to Yao & TMac, and only once TMac went down to Ron start hoisting shots. And even after Yao went down in the playoffs, it wasn’t like Ron felt he was given the green light to do whatever he wants. So maybe it’ll work out, and maybe this will be what puts the Lakers over the top for the next few years since all the other contendahs have been loading up the last few weeks. Time will tell.
Other people’s thoughts…? Chime in on the comments below.

Here’s FanAddict’s Top 10 Ways The Lakers Can Keep Artest In Check.

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