Trevor Ariza and Ron Artest — The View from Houston...

Wow...

Ariza-artest-art_mediumI averted my eyes for a day or two going on vacation to Northern California and returned to learn that Mitch Kupchak and Daryl Morey had each managed to come to terms with the other's Unrestricted Free Agent Small Forward. That's some fast negotiating, guys... You've seen the deals and I've seen the deals: Trevor Ariza to the Rockets, Ron "Crazy Pills" Artest to the Lakers for Mid-Level Exception money — Trevor landing a 5 year deal and LAL stepping up to the plate for 3 years of Ron.

I can't pretend to be pleased about this switch of 3s. Trevor Ariza was my second favorite Laker from the 2008-09 World Championship team (Pau being my pal, and yes, I do realize who else suited up for them). Pure hustle, defensive energy, and timely shooting...

As for Artest? Well, let's just say that he's already an award winner with me, named as he was to my first annual All-NBA All Moron Squad. (Yeah, I know it's not a very catchy name. There are other metaphorically descriptive nouns for Ron-Ron and his ilk that better apply and I would most assuredly have come up with a more fittingly offensive moniker, 'cept Rev. Dave of Blazers Edge —where the list was posted in early April — has rather draconian rules against such things...)

More follows after the jump, so click it, baby!

Here's what I had to say about Crazy Ron 3 months ago: "At only $7.4 Million this season, he’s a veritable bargain. That’s because he’s already been marked down for being seriously damaged… I like his toughness and still manage to hate every single thing about his game. He’s ironically both a gunner and a loose cannon that will end up sinking the ship (that’s some kind of a daily double!), we can only hope that this happens sooner rather than later..."

That's pretty much on the money, I think, and the only thing I would now revise is that I henceforth hope he DOESN'T end up sinking the ship with his serial weirdnesses, existential chemistry poisoning, near comical ball hoggery, and horrid shot selection.

If I were a big fat fatty owner of an NBA franchise, hoppin' around the clubs with delectable 18 year old hotties and looking to unload a couple wheelbarrows full of greenies on a $33M Free Agent, I certainly know where I'd be dumping my dosh. I'd dish out to the standout defender, the playoff proven role-player from UCLA rather than the ummmm, colorful man with bad hair from the mean streets. 

But done's done and there is no sense crying over the deal at this point, even if I do feel like crying a little...

Anyway I was curious how this de facto trade has been playing in Rocketland and decided to take a little spin around the old neighborhood for a sampling of the views of beat journalists, bloggers, and fans alike. 

 

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First, let's put the Ariza signing into context...

(1)

While Yao, the Rockets' "Cornerstone" Considers Options, the Rockets have Few

by Jonathan Feigen, Houston Chronicle Rockets blog

So the Rockets wait. Again.

Rockets physician Tom Clanton revealed on Monday that the hairline fracture in Yao Ming's left foot not only has failed to heal as expected but has gotten worse. The treatments could be as simple as putting him back in a boot or in a cast, to an extensive surgery to alter the operation of his foot. He could miss much of the summer or all of next season. If the most extensive surgery is necessary and did not go well, the injury could be career-threatening.

First, a glimmer of hope.

When I asked Clanton if the possibility that Yao's hairline fracture could still heal on its own — as the doctors always thought it would — would be something along the lines of me winning the lottery, he jumped in before I could finish the sentence.

"Oh, no, no," he said. "I would not put it that way.

"The fact he is having no symptoms gives us reason for optimism."

Yao could choose to immobilize the foot again, and he would be thrilled if instead of the eight weeks the Rockets thought it would take for the bone to heal, it took 16, or 24.

Still, it feels as if that is hoping for a long, long shot to come through. *  *  *

"The hairline fracture that is present in the previous X-rays shows evidence it has not healed and has extended across the bone," Clanton said.

That is enough to force Yao and the Rockets to consider far more extreme steps than putting him back in the boot or in a cast and him drink oil tankers of whole milk.

There is a wide range of surgical options. * * *

"At this point, the injury has the potential for him missing this next season and could be career threatening," Clanton said. "One of the things we are trying to get is a consensus opinion on that, to make certain there is no option we are overlooking that would provide an earlier return or would be an option for treatment that he would prefer rather than d oing additional surgery." * * *

 

(2)

Swapping with L.A.: Artest going, Ariza ComingForward Ariza agrees in principle to 5-year deal

by Jonathan Feigen, Houston Chronicle

While Ron Artest headed to Los Angeles and a chance to win a championship, Trevor Ariza, the small forward with a key hand in the most recent title run, agreed to join the Rockets to replace him.

Ariza accepted the Rockets' offer of a five-year, mid-level exception deal late Thursday, expected to be worth roughly $33 million, an individual with knowledge of the deal said. Players may sign free agent contracts beginning July 8.

The Lakers on Wednesday offered Ariza, 24, a contract similar to the mid-level exception he accepted from the Rockets, but well short of the deal he reportedly was seeking. Ariza, a 6-8 forward, averaged 8.9 points and 4.3 rebounds last season, his fifth season after one season at UCLA.

Though long a top-level small forward athletically, Ariza's stock shot up as his shooting range and touch improved. He averaged 11.3 points in the playoffs, making 49.7 of his shots and 47.6 percent of his 3-pointers, making several game-changing defensive plays during the Lakers' Western Conference Finals series with the Nuggets.

Ariza, chosen by the New York Knicks in the second round of the 2004 NBA Draft, was traded to the Orlando Magic for former Rockets guard Steve Francis, and to the Lakers for current Rockets forward Brian Cook, starting 20 games in the regular-season this season but all 23 of the Lakers' post-season games.

After Ariza turned down the Lakers' contract offer on Wednesday, Artest quickly grabbed it Thursday afternoon, going from spending much of the post-season playing against the Lakers or watching them from courtside at Staples Center to joining them.

With the Rockets looking elsewhere, Artest had considered overtures from the Cavaliers before choosing Thursday to join the Lakers, the team that eliminated the Rockets in seven games in the Western Conference semifinals. Artest accepted a three-year, mid-level deal in Los Angeles, where he has spent much of the off-season and had received recruiting efforts from former AAU teammate Lamar Odom. * * *

 

(3)

Rockets' Exchange Likely for the Better

by Richard Justice, Houston Chronicle

Trevor Ariza makes the Rockets younger, faster and better. He fits with the way Rick Adelman wants to play.

Sometime next season, we're going to see Tracy McGrady, Carl Landry, Aaron Brooks and Ariza leading a fast break that will take your breath away.

Finally, we're going to have an Adelman team that plays like an Adelman team. I'm so giddy about Ariza that I'm willing to forgive and forget with T-Mac.

OK, so we're getting ahead of ourselves. Let's take a deep breath and go one step at a time.

Ariza is a first-rate defensive player, threw in almost 50 percent of his 3-pointers in the playoffs, and is still only 24.

Yes, there's still that hole at center. Give Daryl Morey a couple more days to take care of that issue.

Maybe you've heard Ariza wasn't Morey's first choice. You would be right about that. In fact, I'm guessing Morey took a flyer on Ariza, never figuring he had a chance to land him.

Ariza told the Lakers and other teams it wasn't going to be about the money, but that's what people say. He apparently meant it, however; one source estimates he left $9 million on the table to join the Rockets. *  *  *

 

(4)

I'm Going to Miss You, Crazy Pills

by Grunge Dave, The Dream Shake (SBN)

Dear RonRon,

I'm gonna miss you. I admit, I'm a little weepy right now. You were everything we asked for when we traded Donte Greene and a draft pick to get you last summer. We always knew it might be a short-term relationship given that you were in a contract year. We didn't care. Nor do I feel cheated today. It was worth the risk. And I fully believe that risk paid off in spades.

You helped get the Rockets to the second round this year. Which for Yao Ming and others had to seem like a myth until they actually got there. (Tracy McGrady... still a non-believer.) You brought an aggressiveness and a mindset to Houston that had been lacking for more than a decade. No one bullies the Rockets anymore.

So, thank you, Ron Artest. I truly mean it.

I do not begrudge you in your decision to join Kobe and the Lakers. It makes perfect sense. Yao and T-Mac probably won't be suiting up in 2010. The Rockets are rebuilding, whether they want to admit it publicly or not. I'm okay with all of this. Which is why I understand that you had to do what is best for you, Ron. I absolutely do understand. And I wish you nothing but the best in Los Angeles. * * *

 

(5)

Thoughts about the Artest-Ariza Swapout

by John, Club Yao

So Ron Artest is gone and Trevor Ariza is coming to Houston. I'm okay with that.

Ariza reminds me of a more athletic Robert Horry, and we all know how he helped the Rockets win a couple of rings. Both have shown they can hit big shots in the clutch, something the Rockets have needed.

If it turns out Yao is going to be hurt for all of next season, then the Rockets can't build around Artest. He's not a cornerstone player, and he's not getting any younger. And as much as I liked him as a player, I was very disappointed how he never learned how to stop being a ballhog and jack up terrible shots. He is what he is.

Although Artest is going to sign for the mid-level exception with the Lakers for around $5-$6 million per year for 3 years, he would have cost a lot more to the Rockets (maybe $9 million/year for 3 years, if not more).

The Rockets can't tie up that kind of money for an offensive liability as they try to retool for the future. Not for a 40% shooter. I actually think Artest is going to disrupt the offensive chemistry on the Lakers...but that's their problem. Regardless, it will be interesting to see how it all plays out in LA-LA land. * * *

 

(6)

July 3rd Houston Sports FaF Smear (and WTF)

by THE Random Guy, Fourth and Fifty.com

Let me explain how my brain works (or in this case "doesn't work") from a day to day stand point. I met some friends up at Cedar Creek in the Heights, so the obvious disclaimer here is that liquid inebriants were involved. Still, what follows is a bit of dumbassery.

I'm was barely paying attention to the Women's Wimbledon Semi-Finals. Elena Dementieva seemed to have complete control over Serena Williams. Every time I looked up it seemed like Serena was hobbling up and down the baseline, beaten in spirit, will and on the scoreboard. Even though they were trading games in the final set I assumed it obvious that Dementieva would be the eventual winner. As they walked off the court it seemed that was the result.

Sometime during that scintillating match, right after Serena was done bouncing her boobies for ESPN after winning a point, a game-break occured announcing that Ron Artest had signed a three-year deal. SWEET! A three-year deal! That means that he has some inside information and Yao Ming is going to be back, everything is going to be perfect and we're all going to be one big happy family.

Well, guess what? Serena Williams will be part of another all-Williams sister major final. And, (more importantly) Ron Artest didn't sign a three year deal with the Rockets... HE SIGNED WITH THE LOS ANGELES LAKERS!! He announced it live on SportsCenter! He didn't Tweet about it, let his agent actually finalize the deal, or allow the team to announce in a press conference. He circumvented everything and showed up in Bristol with a "So Gutta" hat on to announce his move. Ridiculous.

The overall question is "why?" Why would you do this Ron-Ron? Lakers, are you serious? This move makes no sense for you. Daryl Morey, what are you going to do about it? Oh, you're going to sign Trevor Ariza? Ok, I guess I can live with that. * * *

 

(7)

I'm Happy About These Transactions

posted by "Sherlock" to Clutch Fans message board

I like being the underdogs ... and glad Ariza is on board.

Artest is probably in a better place too, and with Yao and TMac out, will probably get his ring there sooner. I personally liked Artest here, and thought he brought some toughness we needed, gave us flexibility, and an asset on both sides of the ball, which is hard to find. I love how much he loved Houston, too, and was proud of him being here. Of course, he probably brought drama behind the scenes that made things more challenging for the coaches, the ball would stop with him sometimes, and he really didn't play all that well in stretches. But, he was a signficant asset here, IMHO, and I actually hoped we'd keep him, if nothing else, as a player asset.

I'd have liked to get something back for Artest, but, it wouldn't surprise me if there wasn't some backroom stuff going on where Houston and LA let each other "have" the other player through MLEs. Artest would have been insulted and developed an attitude if HOU had offered him the same deal he's excited about getting in LA. Ariza was insulted by the same deal from LA, that he's excited about from HOU. Sometimes, people have to switch teams, and this is a good example of everyone winning. Both teams got happy players cheaper.

I'm happy about these transactions. Ariza has some serious upside, and we just got younger, with less health concerns, and with less drama, and greater flexibility for other trades this off-season. * * *

 

(8)

Tank Year to Get Trade-Worthy

posted by "Alethios" to Clutch Fans message board

* * *
I would love nothing more than to see Fakers self-destruct with their new dramatic addition.

I imagine that Jerry Buss will be pleading with Jackson to coach full-time so he can keep some control over the Ron-ron's quirks.

You know, Ariza is a role player and damn good at it, but we're definitely in a rebuilding year without Yao and Tracy. If we had both healthy (I forgot what that looks like), this Ariza deal would make perfect sense.

But we have to believe in Rockets management to make the right decisions even if that's accepting a tank year to get us to a trade-worthy year (2010) and get some real star power for this team again. * * *

 

(9)

Ariza More Cool-Headed, Controlled, Team-Oriented

posted by "Mazinger" to Clutch Fans message board

Let's clear some things first.

First of all, people were saying Ron was better than Tracy becasue everyone was pissed and still are at him. Ron is not better than Tracy [McGrady].

Secondly, Ron did not get us to the 2nd round, it was the hard work of every single player. If anything, Ron hurt the Rockets more than helped. He often did not play the Rockets offence and forced several shots and tried to win a game by himself which turned into a loss. Defense, yes, maybe against some players but Battier ended guarding Roy and Kobe most of the time becasue they were both tearing Ron to pieces.

The Rockets could have easily offered Ron more years but something had to have happened for both Rick and Morey not to have extended such offer and instead go for Ariza. In Ariza we have a more cool headed, controlled, and team player who is not going to try to win or lose a game by himself. That is why Rick and Morey decided to go for Ariza than Ron besides age.

The reason why people are saying Ron is not a good fit with the Lakers is because they have too many people who demand the ball: Kobe, Gasol, Odem and now Ron. There is going to be some conflicts there as to who will be taking the shots and when. Just look at teams who have had too many stars:

The Lakers when they had Karl Malone, Gary Payton, Kobe, and Shaq did not win a Championship. * * *

 

The Bottom Line:

1. T-Mac is in the middle of microfracture, Yao with another dreaded stress-fracture in his foot — and both of them are in contract years. The time to rebuild is now.

2. Given that, who would our Rockets be better suited to build around — a defensive-minded role player or an aging prima dona shooter with an overstated reputation for defense?

 

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