Look at it this way: If the Rockets offered Ron Artest to the Lakers for Trevor Ariza straight-up and the money was even, wouldn’t L.A. jump on that in half-a-second? Of course. That’s basically what happened yesterday, when Artest agreed to a three-year, $18M deal with L.A., and an allegedly pissed-off Ariza turned right around and reached a deal with the Rockets. (Ariza was already believed to be upset that the Lakers hadn’t made him more of a priority in the beginning stages of free agency, so he might have left anyway.) The younger Ariza will get an estimated $33 million over five years … We can’t say right now if Ariza fits what Houston is doing, because nobody knows exactly what Houston is doing until they figure out Yao Ming‘s situation … As for Artest, he obviously makes the Lakers a juggernaut defensively — still weak at PG unless they re-sign Shannon Brown, but then you could conceivably stick Kobe on any opposing PG that’s killing you and let Artest take the wing player Kobe would normally have been guarding — but you have to wonder if his shot-jacking tendencies will disrupt the offense. (We’re talking about the triangle, not the “Iso for Kobe and stand around” offense that L.A. runs more and more often as the playoffs go on.) … You know how the media coverage of Artest on the Lakers will be. Somebody needs to make an over/under for the number of times during the season Kobe is asked, “Do you guys ever get into fights at practice?” Or how many times the word “coexist” and “volatile personalities” are used. And the first time Ron goes barreling into the stands at Staples and nearly tramples Jack Nicholson, it’ll make national headlines … In the meantime, it looks like the Rockets are losing out on their top offseason target, Marcin Gortat. The Polish McIlvaine is signing an offer sheet with the Mavs, a five-year deal for around $30M. If you’re Orlando, do you match that deal to keep Gortat? … Well, that Ricky Rubio thing was interesting while it lasted. Although the Wolves haven’t confirmed, reports across the water say Rubio has decided to stay in Spain for two years (the remainder of his contract) before coming to the NBA. Minnesota still owns Rubio’s draft rights for however long he stays in Europe, and this actually works out well for them. Now they have time to see what they have in Jonny Flynn; if he gets on the court and kills it in his first two years, they can go ahead and trade Rubio for a good reason. If Flynn turns out more like Sebastian Telfair, Rubio might be more willing to play there since he knows he’d be the starter without much competition. Our guess? Flynn becomes a star at best, solid starter at worst, and Rubio’s first NBA game is in a Knicks uniform in 2010, the same day the Knicks also debut LeBron or D-Wade or Bosh or Amar’e or Dirk or whoever they hand the world over to that summer … Allen Iverson has been virtually ignored early in this free agent process — likely a combination of teams assuming he’ll demand a lot of money, figuring he won’t work in their system, and that he’ll stunt the growth of their young building blocks. The Heat and Bobcats have been mentioned as possible destinations, there’s a contingent hoping he returns to Philly, but check out where A.I. apparently wants to go … Look for the Raptors to be the next team making a significant splash. They’re the front-runners (at least money-wise) to get Hedo Turkoglu, and now they’re going after David Lee hard since the Grizzlies filled their PF need by trading for Zach Randolph. Not sure if Toronto can afford both of those guys and still give Bosh what he wants next summer, but maybe that’s the idea: Toronto knows Bosh is outta there, and Lee isn’t a bad replacement at the four … While the Rockets are waiting a week to see if Yao should get surgery, the Jazz are waiting for Matt Harpring to decide if he wants to keep playing. “Sometimes, I have thoughts of playing,” Harpring told the Deseret News. “And then I have thoughts of not playing.” You know Tim Thomas is reading that and nodding his head in total agreement … We’re out like Rubio …
Smack / Jul 3, 2009 / 4:05 am
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