Trevor Ariza or Ron Artest?
The Quick Hit: The powers that be within the Los Angeles Lakers should ask themselves this question: Why did they spend last summer ‘fixing’ what wasn’t broken?
Last July, after winning the NBA Title, the purple-and-gold decided not to re-sign blue-collar Trevor Ariza and instead inked Ron Artest to a multi-year deal for mid level exception money.
In theory, this move looked good. Sure, Ariza was a valuable contributor, but Artest was a past Defensive Player of the Year, an O.G. of lockdown defenders, and had a profile that suited the glitz-and-glamour of Los Angeles.
In reality, the results have been far more mixed. Artest, even though he wasn’t part of the 2009 championship winning team, seems distracted and believes he, like the Lakers, can simply pick things up when the playoffs arrive.
The signs began well before training camp when he was pre-occupied with making youtube clips, doing photo shoots with models, and playing match-maker for Lamar Odom and Khloe Kardashian. Artest, a native of the Queensbridge projects, had gone Hollywood.
Artest is also unsure of when to defer on-court and when to assert himself. His conditioning is also an issue. While not overweight, Artest is carrying an additional 15 pounds of bulk on his already stocky frame, which has made him a good but hardly great defender.
Ariza, however, grew up in L.A., so the TMZ environment and paparazzi were nothing new. He consistently found ways to chip-in offensively without having plays run for him. And, bottom line, the Lakers won with Ariza as their glue-guy and shutdown defender.
But everything hinges on the second season. Win back-to-back championships and Ariza is a memory. Lose to the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals or to the Eastern Conference champions and Artest suddenly is the fall guy.
Until then, until they win it all or fall short, Laker-nation won’t know if they ‘fixed’ something that wasn’t broken by replacing Ariza with Artest.
Ariza or Artest? Get at us with thoughts. Photo courtesy of tithering.