First Yao might be down for the next season possibly forever.
Now the Rox lose Artest and get Ariza. I'd rather have Artest.
“If they couldn’t get Trevor [Ariza] cheap,” said a source with knowledge of the Lakers’ free-agent plans, “they had Ron in their back pocket.”
Change is good for a defending champion. When the rest of the NBA’s elite – Cleveland, Orlando and Boston are getting better – the champion can’t just stand pat. As an executive and a player chasing repeat titles, Detroit’s Joe Dumars says, “I like to make one significant change in that second year.”
This gives the Lakers something to incorporate, to work through, across a long training camp and regular season. This way, they aren’t tempted to just coast until the playoffs. This changes the dynamic for everyone, and give Artest this: Around him, there’s never complacency.
Bryant never campaigned for Artest over Ariza, his loyalty with the hot-shooting kid who helped him win a championship without Shaquille O’Neal(notes). In the long run, the Lakers were wiser to keep the young Ariza to transition into a post-Kobe stardom. Yet, general manager Mitch Kupchak barely blinked when Ariza’s agent, David Lee, started talking like a tough guy, parading his client on what one rival GM called “a leverage tour.”
The Lakers don’t believe he’ll leave, Lee kept barking. Surprise, surprise: Lee didn’t think the Lakers would tell him to get lost, sign Artest and leave Ariza to take the five-year, $33 million deal in Houston he could’ve had in L.A.