Artest to the Lakers! or Artest to the Lakers?

Ron Artest is now a Laker.

The story of the NBA now, according to ESPN (go argue with them), is that Shaq’s the past, Kobe’s the present top dog, and LeBron’s the next big thing. Clearly, Artest chose the NOW. Or maybe, he just chose Los Angeles over Cleveland. After all those, It’s the Lakers, and it’s all about championships.

I’m happy, of course.

But it complicates some things, namely, Lamar Odom and Trevor Ariza. Ariza is reportedly gone and leaving for Houston, which makes it look like a trade between him and Artest– but it’s not. It’s not also entirely an accident, though.

With the lineup that the Lakers have before Artest, they are still good enough to win championship. Artest’s arrival pushes a guarantee, especially now that the Cleveland Cavaliers have added Shaquille O’neal and the Orlando Magic added Vince Carter. And his signing with the Lakers leaves Cleveland (his other option) longing for another piece. So, sorry, Cleveland, Orlando, even Boston (courting Sheed, eh?), and the NBA: the best just got better.

I feel good about this, but rethinking, I’m not sure Artest over Ariza is a better choice. Acquiring Artest virtually means allowing a similar defensive player and offensive contributor in Ariza to go, which he did and almost deliberately to the same team that Artest left. I know the Lakers are the NOW, but as a fan, I’m looking for them to build a dynasty. Ariza is young, he has a potential to be a star, and he only looks to get better. Won’t a dynasty be better served by a young energy guy like him staying?

Probably, but I hope things go well for the Lakers anyway. The Lakers will be monsters next season (73 win season, anyone?), Artest is in his prime (29) and is of course a better player than Ariza. But Ariza can and will improve. Man… I hope Artest is still good for a number of years to fortify this dynasty I’m anticipating. I just hope that Artest won’t be carcinogenic to the Laker locker room. He said he’s happy to be a Laker. I hope so. No problems between him and Kobe, especially, so that it manifests into an even better team. Winning solves a lot of problems, and winning is no problem to L.A. I don’t know if Odom would stay, but the salary of Artest stays at a mid-level exception (I do think it’s fair to give him a better contract, but I hope it doesn’t shoo away Odom). I know, I’m consoling myself, but after all, I’m not sure if Ariza would even surpass Artest as a player.

I guess you have to go to the now and the certainty.

Like Artest did.
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