July 15, 2008
I'm aware that we've come to a place where you think that every NBA transaction, either entertained or executed upon, gets the thumbs down from this byline. I get that. I'm working on that. Not hard, but the effort is there.
Still, you're probably not surprised to note I almost think that the reported trade that would send Ron Artest and Kenny Thomas (woof) to the Los Angeles Lakers for Lamar Odom stinks on ice for both teams. Honestly, this can't help anyone with anything. Almost anything. Let's go over the potential positives:
1). The Lakers need someone to guard Paul Pierce.
They needed that guy about five weeks ago, more than anything, but the need still remains.
2). The Kings need to not have Kenny Thomas on their roster.
Actually, I don't want to kill the Kings too much for trying to make a deal like this. On the surface, bringing in a guy like Odom in his prime seems like another unfortunate Geoff Petrie move. Petrie's the guy who refuses to admit that he's rebuilding, for half a year at least (sign Mikki Moore, not rebuilding, trade Mike Bibby, rebuilding; draft Spencer Hawes, rebuilding, not trade Brad Miller, not rebuilding), and you'd like to see him skew younger.
Odom, who at this point is a better overall player than Artest, would seem to be another way of staving off what needs to Sacramento's eventual youth movement, and he does make over 14 million dollars next season.
And he's not under contract for 2009-10.
Still, and though knocking Thomas' contract off the 2009-10 books is nice, you would hope Petrie could do a little better, and maybe work out a sign-and-trade for some semi-notable youngster who doesn't want to play for the Qualifying Offer, or even trade for a player working off the QO during the regular season, and I'm well aware that the player in question would have to sign off on playing in Sacramento in both instances. Stop it.
For the Lakers, it makes absolutely no sense on every possible level.
Forget Artest's eccentricities. We can bank on him doing some odd things but we're not sure how they'll manifest and it stands to reason that Mssrs. Jackson and Bryant should do a solid job of keeping him on point.
What worries me more is that Artest wants to be on point. On the point. He wants to play point guard. If he can't, then (ooh-ooh!) he wants to post this guy up. Can't get the pass? Then he wants to meet the ball, and take his guy off the dribble.
Ron fancies himself a Paul Pressey of sorts, only more annoying, and though this recent batch of offensive enthusiasm has been brought up so much that it's nearly becoming overdone, even if Artest curbs his offensive enthusiasm by 20 percent next year, that's still too much for a Laker offense that will be thrown out of wack by someone trying to dominate the ball.
And that's not a shot at Kobe Bryant, he's not going to chafe at losing shots as long as the offense runs smoothly. But if Artest is breaking plays and going off the rails as he's done in years past, the Laker offense will be far from smooth. It will be the anti-Michael McDonald, and nobody wants that. They better not want it. Michael McDonald will make sure of that.
Other than that, you're going to have to go to Kurt from Forum Blue and Gold for the best breakdown. In it, he mentions how Artest's defensive influence has been mitigated recently by his refusal to work through screens or his roaming for steals, he talks about Odom's far-superior rebounding, his far, far-superior offensive gifts, and the fact that Odom has been playing in this offense since 2005. Artest has not.
And then there's this brilliance, from Kurt:
1) Last year the Lakers made two trades, getting Ariza out of Orlando and Gasol out of Memphis. In both cases, there was no pre-trade leaks and discussion. However, last summer there was plenty of leaks and discussion about Jermaine O'Neal for Bynum and other trades that did not happen. Which category does this fall into?
2) To me and just about anyone else, adding Kenny Thomas would be a deal breaker. No way are we taking on $7.5 million this year and more than $8 mil next year, the same year we will have to pay Bynum, Ariza (and in this scenario re-sign Artest).
It just won't work for the defending Western champs, and that's even without taking into consideration Artest's off-court foibles.
For the Kings? I think they can do better from a talent standpoint, though that hope may have been shot to hell by Ron's recent Ron-ness.
It's another reason why this summer is too, too long. These guys can talk themselves into thinking anything is a good deal.