Tag:Ron Artest
Posted on: July 22, 2009 11:34 am
 

Time to re-sign, Lamar

A few weeks ago when Ron Artest decided to sign with the Lakers, one of the first things out of his mouth was this: "I know Lamar Odom, so that's pretty cool."

Artest and Odom have known each other since they were kids growing up in Queens, playing in the playgrounds and on AAU teams. As much as Artest wanted to sign with the Lakers -- even saying he'd "play there for nothing" -- it is unfathomable that he would've made such a bold career move without knowing L.O. would be on board.

This is why the posturing, the rejected offers, and the offers taken off the table over the past few weeks have been so puzzling. Well, puzzling isn't the right word. I never -- ever -- begrudge athletes, entertainers, finance people, or anybody else when they try to get paid. That is their right and that is how the game is played. An athlete's career is a nanosecond, and they should make as much money as humanly possible. You would do the same thing. So would I.

But the time has come for Odom and his agent, Jeff Schwartz, to recognize that the market is what it is for a player who might just be the best sixth man in the NBA -- but one who, nonetheless, has never made so much as an All-Star team or led the league in any major statistical category. Odom wears his heart on his sleeve and the address of the South Jamaica home where he grew up on the tongues of his sneakers. The dirty secret that Lakers management has known throughout this process is that Odom's heart is in L.A. That's where he and his sneakers belong, too.

Miami? Nice place. No state income tax. Great teammate to play with in Dwyane Wade. But adding Odom wouldn't put the Heat any closer to a title than the Lakers would be if they re-signed him. Portland? The Blazers certainly have the cap space after losing out on Hedo Turkoglu and Paul Millsap, but Portland doesn't feel like the right fit for Odom.

In my mind, the only place besides L.A. that would've made sense for Odom was Boston. But the Celtics struck early in the free-agent period and signed Rasheed Wallace for a fraction of what Odom is seeking.

There will be no hard feelings on either side when, I predict, Odom relents and accepts a three-year deal from the Lakers for somewhere north of $30 million. Derek Fisher is on record saying, "We want him back badly and I hope we can accomplish that in the next couple days." Kobe Bryant is on record saying he's "optimistic" that Odom will return to the Lakers. It is time for those recruiting efforts and optimism to become reality.

Some people whose names end in two G's don't like Lamar Odom. They're stuck in their wistful thinking about how good he could've been if he'd applied himself or if he wanted to be one of the top five players of his era. Odom certainly has that kind of talent. But he was born to be a wingman, and life's challenges have only solidified that niche for him. The Lakers are the perfect team for him, and he for them. It's time to stop posturing and put pen to paper with the Lakers. I refuse to believe that Fisher, Bryant, and Artest will let him do anything different. If Odom knows what's good for him -- if he knows where he's wanted and where he belongs -- then he'll listen.

Posted on: July 3, 2009 4:33 pm
 

Phil Jax coming back

Phil Jackson will return to coach the Lakers next season to make a run at his 11th NBA title with Kobe Bryant and Ron Artest.

"After consulting with Lakers team internist Dr. John Moe, I feel confident that I can gainfully pursue an NBA season with another long playoff postseason," Jackson said in a statement posted on Lakers.com. "All things point to go."

Jackson, 63, had another year left on his contract at about $12 million but had a window of several weeks after the NBA Finals to notify Lakers management if he would fulfill the deal. Jackson has undergone two hip replacement operations and has been concerned for several years about the wear and tear of traveling for a full 82-game season and the playoffs. That's why Jackson raised the possibility of only coaching home game next season and turning the reins to assistant Kurt Rambis for road games. The idea was quickly rejected by the Lakers.

It was clear Thursday when Artest announced his intentions to sign with the Lakers after speaking with Jackson that the NBA's career leader with 10 titles would be back.

I have two thoughts: 1) Nobody walks away from $12 million these days. Not even with a limp. And 2) With the unpredictable Artest on the team, Phil will earn every dollar. And he might just earn his 11th ring.
Posted on: July 2, 2009 6:56 pm
Edited on: July 3, 2009 2:17 am
 

Artest says he's signing with Lakers (UPDATE)

Shaq can have LeBron. Ron Artest says he'll take Kobe.

Artest, whose versatility and toughness have made him one of the most coveted and combustible players in the NBA, told CBSSports.com Thursday that he's signing with the Lakers.

"I'm definitely going to L.A. -- to sign, yeah," Artest said in a phone interview. "Lakers, Lakers, Lakers. I'm in L.A. right now."

Artest said he met with Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss Thursday and previously had spoken with Lakers coach Phil Jackson. He was en route to his financial manager's office, where he planned to huddle on the phone with his agent, David Bauman, to finalize details.

Artest's exuberance -- he spent the whole summer in L.A., including several appearances at Lakers home games during the NBA Finals -- got ahead of the process a bit. Other teams that made overtures for Artest -- including the Cavaliers -- have not yet been notified that Artest is signing with the Lakers. (Consider them notified.) Bauman has spoken with Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak, and a person with knowledge of the negotiations told CBSSports.com that Artest agreed to a five-year deal for the full mid-level exception -- about $33 million. It's the same deal that Houston agreed to with Trevor Ariza, who swaps cities with Artest.

"I don't really care about the money," Artest said. "I'll play there for nothing. ... L.A. was very interested in me, and they got me."

UPDATE: Lakers spokesman John Black declined to comment on Artest's assertion, but another person with knowledge of the situation corroborated Artest's account that he will sign with L.A. pending the passing of the weeklong moratorium on player movement, which expires July 8.

Only 24 hours earlier, the buzz was focused on Artest joining LeBron James and Shaquille O'Neal in Cleveland in what would've made a potent Big Three on the shores of Lake Erie. It would've been, well, eerie, too: Artest's internal combustion engine, combined with LeBron's exquisite dominance and Shaq's alpha-male, all-around Shaq-ness would've been something to see.

But Artest said talks with Cleveland "never got that far." Told that Cleveland, by all accounts, had extreme interest, Artest said, "I don't know how extreme. I love the Cleveland Cavaliers, though. I love LeBron and Coach (Mike) Brown and Shaq."

But what he really loves is L.A.

"L.A. is what it is," Artest said. "I've been here for the whole summer, and it's pretty good. It's good for me. I know Lamar Odom, so that's pretty cool."

Artest spoke as though Odom would return to the Lakers to join Artest and Kobe Bryant for another title run. Although the Spurs and several other teams were interested in Odom, the Lakers have the inside track. L.A.'s other free agent, Trevor Ariza, agreed Thursday to sign with Houston for the same mid-level deal Artest got from the Lakers.

UPDATE:
The addition of Artest is a coup for the defending champion Lakers, who have faced the prospect of trying to retain their own free agents, Odom and Ariza, and have seen other contenders make major efforts to improve. Most notably, the Celtics dispatched their Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce, along with coach Doc Rivers and managing partner Wyc Grousbeck to Detroit on Thursday to offer free agent Rasheed Wallace a mid-level contract. Cleveland's acquisition of Shaq put the Lakers, Celtics, and Magic on notice that the Cavaliers were making a serious push for a title next season. The Cavs' pursuit of Wallace, Artest, and Ariza signaled that they weren't finished after the pre-draft trade for Shaq.

"I talked to Coach Phil, and I was happy to talk to him," Artest said. "Big fan of Coach Phil. My agent talked to Kupchak, and I met with Dr. Buss. I'm very, very excited."

 

Posted on: July 1, 2009 7:18 pm
Edited on: July 2, 2009 2:20 am
 

Free-Agent Buzz: Artest to Cavs? (UPDATE)

You want buzz? How's Ron Artest playing on the same team with LeBron James and Shaquille O'Neal?

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the Cavs -- and LeBron himself -- are recruiting Artest to form a new Big Three in Cleveland that would be entertaining, potentially combustible, and perhaps even really, really good. The possibilities are endless -- great quotes, controversies, Artest advocating for LeBron in the LeBron-Kobe debate. Maybe even a championship.

Artest has been fielding offers from several teams, but so far the most impressive has to be Cleveland's courtship, which included LeBron making an in-person pitch recently when both players were in Los Angeles for events. This could develop quickly; a person close to Artest indicated that the small forward was expecting to start sorting through offers as early as Wednesday night.

By joining the Rockets last season and not making any waves -- not to mention his mostly effective contributions in the playoffs -- Artest earned himself one more free-agent score. And the value won't necessarily be measured in dollars, but in the opportunity to win a championship. For that reason, and in order to repay the Rockets for taking a chance on him, Artest had been leaning toward returning to Houston. But the possibility that Yao Ming could miss the entire 2009-10 season has changed everything.

Artest made several conspicuous appearances at Lakers home games during the Finals, and L.A. could be a formidable competitor for Artest's services -- especially if the Lakers lose either Lamar Odom or Trevor Ariza, both unrestricted free agents.

The most the Cavs can offer is the mid-level exception of about $5.6 million, and Artest figures to do better elsewhere -- in terms of dollars but not opportunity. At various times during the past two years as he approached free agency, Artest repeatedly said he wasn't looking for one more pay day, but rather for the chance to win a championship. The opportunity has arrived.

Here's more free-agent buzz from conversations with executives, agents, and others in the know:

* After CBSSports.com reported early Wednesday that the Trail Blazers were aggressively pursuing Hedo Turkoglu, the free-agent forward will receive a visit from Portland coach Nate McMillan Wednesday night in Orlando. Turkoglu is expected to accept the team's invitation to tour Portland and the Blazers' facilities on Thursday. An offer -- believed to be a five-year deal in the $50 million range -- is expected to be extended at that time. As many as five teams have inquired about Turkoglu -- some with cap room, some without, according to agent Lon Babby. One of them is not the Detroit Pistons, who have focused their attention on Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva.

UPDATE: The Raptors are debating whether to make a pre-emptive offer to Turkoglu that would top Portland's, but that would require renouncing the rights to Shawn Marion, Carlos Delfino, and Anthony Parker. Another option is to keep those players and sign a mid-level free agent. If the Raptors decide to go for a bigger name, Turkoglu isn't the only one they're considering. They also have interest in Knicks restricted free agent David Lee.

* The Knicks rolled out the red carpet for Jason Kidd at Madison Square Garden Wednesday, but the Mavericks still have the advantage in their efforts to retain the future Hall of Fame point guard. A person familiar with the talks said there are strong indications that Mavs owner Mark Cuban is willing to offer Kidd a three-year deal, which is well beyond what the Knicks are prepared to offer.

* Suns free agent Grant Hill received an in-person pitch from Steve Kerr in Orlando after free agency opened at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday and has been invited to visit the Knicks next week. The Celtics, who are heavily recruiting Rasheed Wallace, also have expressed interest in Hill.

* If Trevor Ariza feels slighted that all the Lakers can offer him is the mid-level exception, it's not clear where he's going to do better than that on the open market. One rival executive believes the Lakers have prioritized Ariza over their other unrestricted free agent, Lamar Odom, and several sources believe they still have a chance to retain both. The Spurs have expressed interest in Odom, as well as Marcin Gortat (courted by the Rockets), and Antonio McDyess.



 

Posted on: July 1, 2009 5:08 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2009 6:46 pm
 

Filling the Boozer void (UPDATE)

With Carlos Boozer off the free-agent market, other free agent forwards are getting ready to cash in.

While Charlie Villanueva was being courted by the Pistons, CBSSports.com has learned that restricted free agents David Lee and Paul Millsap were preparing to field offers as early as Wednesday night. Millsap, the Jazz forward who could benefit the most from Boozer deciding not to opt out of his contract, has heard from three of the four teams with significant cap space -- Oklahoma City, Memphis, and Detroit -- plus a fourth team inquiring about a sign-and-trade. Lee has heard from numerous teams, including Oklahoma City and Memphis, and was expecting inquiries to escalate into offers in the next 24 hours. Despite their focus on Wednesday's meeting at Madison Square Garden with point guard Jason Kidd, the Knicks were among the first teams to reach out to Lee's camp and expressed an interest in keeping him.

While Villanueva was seen as a strong possibility for Cleveland, which may need to replace free agent Anderson Varejao, people in contact with the Cavs' front office say Cleveland is in wait-and-see mode and appears to be strategizing for the second wave of free-agent activity.

UPDATE: OK, the wait's over. Brian Windhorst of the Plain Dealer reports that the Cavs -- and LeBron James himself -- are actively recruiting Ron Artest. There will be more developing on this front throughout the evening.

Rasheed Wallace got a visit from Celtics president Danny Ainge at his home shortly after midnight Wednesday and was getting interest from other contenders.

Like Artest (whose situation isn't directly affected by Boozer's), Lamar Odom (whose situation is) also was preparing to field offers Wednesday. The Suns and Spurs reportedly were among the teams courting Odom, while the Lakers were actively working to keep both of their unrestricted free agents, Odom and small forward Trevor Ariza.

 
Posted on: May 8, 2009 2:15 pm
Edited on: May 8, 2009 5:57 pm
 

Artest: There's Kobe, then there's me (UPDATE)

HOUSTON -- Ron Artest is enjoying the spotlight. He is speaking freely, with brutal honesty and a huge smile. And for once, the topic is something that is happening on the basketball court, not off it.

Artest was on a roll Friday at the Rockets' shootaround before Game 3, saying Kobe Bryant got away with an elbow to the throat that precipitated their verbal skirmish in Game 2 and that the referees treat him differently because of his reputation.

"I think (Bryant) knows he got away with one," Artest said. "That's the referees' job. They see the second reaction. They never see the first with me. Joey [Crawford] was doing a great job. He was involved in every play except the Kobe plays."

As for how Artest feels about being ejected for jawing with Bryant after the elbowing incident, he said, "That's not racial profiling. It's past history profiling."

That's just a preview of what Artest had on his mind in the hours before Game 3 Friday night at the Toyota Center.

UPDATE: For example: Artest called Crawford's decision to eject him "a bad ejection;" said that he told Bryant during their confrontation, "If you're gonna get out of line, I'm gonna get out of line;" and warned that he'll give the referees three chances to protect him in Game 3. And if they don't? Two things will happen, according to Artest.

Thing No. 1: "I'm gonna report it to the police," he said.

And Thing No. 2: "Then I gotta protect myself."

The league office ruled that Bryant's elbow landed in Artest's chest and not his neck, thus ruling out the possibility of suspending Bryant for Game 3. Artest had some fun with that one, too, saying, "Oh, OK. If they say so." But after Kobe's elbow, Artest's response, and Derek Fisher's hip-check to Luis Scola -- which did earn him a suspension for Game 3 -- tensions are high and threats are flowing freely in what has suddenly become the most physical and intriguing series in the conference semifinals.

The one place threats and yap aren't coming from would be Bryant's mouth. Kobe deflected all Artest-related queries at the Lakers' shootaround an hour later, but he finally caved in and offered this: "You guys know me, man. You know I don't back down from anybody. Simple as that."

It's not going to be so simple for the officiating crew: Steve Javie, Sean Corbin, and Ron Garretson. If it's any consolation, Javie was the crew chief for Game 7 of the chippy series between the Celtics and Bulls. In a series that saw Rajon Rondo slapping Brad Miller's face and throwing Kirk Hinrich into the scorer's table, cooler heads prevailed in Game 7.

"It’s just basketball, but it depends on how they want to ref the game," Artest said. "You can hit back, but are they gonna see the first one or are they gonna see the second one? ... So my team, we were just trying to play basketball, but they kept seeing the second one. So I got guys walking my players down, walking behind their back. If somebody walks behind my back, automatically I'm gonna turn around and I might smack them if somebody’s walking right behind me because that’s my natural reaction. So I mean, the referees, they should know that. I think they’re going to do a better job."

One thing about Artest: He knows how to jab you where it hurts. So he proceeded to join the chorus of arm-chair analysts who have suggested that perhaps the Lakers are overcompensating because of how the Celtics outmuscled them in the Finals last year. Except Artest said it better than that.

"Last year, what the Celtics did to them was more about manhood than basketball," Artest said. "They took their manhood. They took it right from under them."

Ouch.

Predictably, Lakers coach Phil Jackson had some fun with all of this while addressing the media on the Toyota Center court. 

"Oh, I don't know, there’s been a lot of that talk," Jackson said. "You have all those guys and they’re sitting at their desk speculating on what we have to do to win or not to win. But it’s about being aggressive. We’re not a heavy team. Guys like Artest, we only give up 20 or 30 pounds to him at all our spots. So he can walk guys to wherever he wants to down underneath the basket. If the referees aren’t going to call it, we have to provide support for ourselves. And that’s the way it is."

Asked if Bryant crossed the line with his elbow to Artest, Jackson said, "You know, what Kobe did happens every single game, maybe 20 times in a game. A big guy’s trying to shove a smaller guy out underneath the basket, and they’re going to have to fight for their life underneath there. It happens all the time. It’s just got a focus because of what happened. We can focus on it as a league and in the press in the playoffs, but those things happen all the time in our game. This is not a game for boys. This is a game for men."

I agree. But that doesn't mean I will deny Artest's right to use the incident as motivation.

"I think they did a good job getting us out of our game, because we were comfortable playing basketball," Artest said. "And it turned into like a fight. We've got to remember just to play basketball when it turns into a fight."

And that it will be, one way or another, in a few short hours.

Posted on: May 5, 2009 11:47 am
 

Here's how Rockets can beat L.A.

Are the Lakers in big trouble? Nah, they've been down this road before. They're a confident team with playoff experience, and they know how to win on the road.

But are they capable of losing a seven-game series to the Rockets? Oh, absolutely. Here's how:


1) Who defends Aaron Brooks? It became obvious while watching the second half of Game 1 in a social establishment near TD Banknorth Garden in Boston Monday night that one of my hunches about this series is absolutely true. The Lakers have no one to guard Brooks. He's quick, crafty, steady with the ball, and he looks like he will be able to get into the paint at will in this series. The only guy capable of stopping him is Trevor Ariza, but the Lakers would rather use him to grapple with Houston's wing players. Plus, if Ariza has to play big minutes to slow down Brooks, the Lakers are down a shooter. That may compel Phil Jackson to go with Shannon Brown against Brooks for long stretches, placing even more demands on the Lakers' bench.

2) Kobe Beef. There is an excellent Japanese restaurant on the outskirts of Houston called Azuma. One of the specialties there is the Hot Rock Kobe -- slabs or raw, 100 percent Kobe beef delivered to your table with a steaming hot stone. You take the slabs of Kobe and sear them yourself on the hot stone. For symbolism's sake, Ron Artest and Shane Battier should visit Azuma on the day off between Games 3 and 4, just to practice taking turns cooking Kobe. That's a luxury that is unique to the Rockets. They're the only team with two players capable of defending Bryant. If one gets into foul trouble, Rick Adelman hands the chop sticks and hot stone to the other one, and away they go. (Full disclosure: This theory was capably espoused by my friend and colleague, Chris Sheridan from ESPN.com, during numerous radio interviews Monday -- one of which was with a station in L.A. that introduced him as the dumbest man on the planet. Silly boys, they forgot about me.)

3) Luis Scola. He may look awkward at times, but Scola is a very capable post player with diverse skills who affects winning at both ends of the floor as much as any player in the NBA. His diversity of post moves gives the Lakers something else to think about in the paint besides Yao, and he has an uncanny knack for finding loose balls and rebounds. Plus, he's a very underrated defender. Few players are more efficient with their opportunities.

4) Yao. The knee-to-knee contact that crumped Yao to the floor in the fourth quarter could have been a turning point in the series. With
a frontcourt of Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, the Lakers are better equipped than most teams to deal with Yao. But if he stays healthy and out of foul trouble, Yao is going to get his 25 and 10 on a nightly basis in this series despite the Lakers' best efforts to contain him.

5) Bench scoring. Other than Lamar Odom, the Lakers' bench has been inconsistent and much maligned at times this season. L.A.'s reserves outscored Houston's 18-16 in Game 1, and they still lost. For the Lakers to win the series, they will need consistent superiority from their bench.

6) The Artest factor. Not only is Artest equipped with on-board Kobe radar and weird hair, but he's also one of the few players in the NBA who can match Kobe's twisted competitiveness and flair for the dramatic. Yes, Artest will kill some possessions with bad shots, but the Rockets have learned they have to take the good with the bad. Simply put, No. 96 is an assassin. In my mind, only two other players in the league share his flair for the pressure-packed crucible of playoff time: Kobe and Paul Pierce.

So can the Lakers shake off their Game 1 loss, get a game in Houston, and still achieve their destiny of facing Cleveland in the NBA Finals? Sure they can. But they can also lose this series for the reasons outlined above. That's why the center of must-watch drama has shifted from Boston -- where the defending champs are in a fight of their own against the Magic -- to Houston-L.A.

Posted on: February 27, 2009 9:31 am
 

Rockets make LeBron human

The Rockets' Ron Artest and Shane Battier held LeBron James to a mortal 21 points on 7-for-21 shooting, one lousy rebound, and no assists -- the first assist-less game of LBJ's career -- in Houston's 93-74 victory Thursday night.

Here is a ridiculously detailed and fantastic analysis of how they did it from Kevin Arnovitz at TrueHoop. (I continue to be amazed on a daily basis by the quality of work being produced in the basketball blogosphere. It's a great place to work.)

Amid all the great detail of the Rockets' defensive strategy, which was fascinating in its own right, here's what stood out to me: Rockets GM Daryl Morey stating emphatically that, yes, LeBron is the best player in the NBA "by a wide margin." Morey knows what he is talking about, so you Kobe fans can take that to the bank.

These days, just be careful which bank.

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com