After the Los Angeles Lakers decided not to resign the talented and improving Trevor Ariza after they won the NBA Championship last season, many were asking why, including myself. Ariza flourished in the playoffs, playing great defense and filling up the stat sheet on offense. Instead of rewarding Ariza for his hard work and improvement, the Lakers did not resign him and they went out and signed the controversial Ron Artest in the offseason. The 29-year old small forward did not have a good debut last night, going 3-10 (including 1-5 on threes) for 10 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 turnovers. Artest is a ball-movement killer, and you need a lot of ball movement in the triangle offense. He likes to hold the ball on the perimeter, or slowly back his defender down, and I just don’t see him changing his habits enough.
Artest is a very talented player, but he brings a ton of baggage with him and you really never know what the guy is thinking. I think the Lakers should have stuck with Ariza, who has no personal or off the court issues and the 24-year-old is nearing his prime. Artest is now on his 5th team in 10 years and is already on the down-slope of his career, no longer the perimeter defender he once was. Now Artest is still a very good player, but Ariza already proved he was a great fit in the Lakers system, something the Lakers will have to wait and see about Artest. The Lakers are obviously still a great team and Artest is still a very good player who may turn out to be great for the Lakers, but Ariza already proved he had the intangibles the Lakers needed and has better character. The Lakers should have resigned Ariza in my opinion, but Artest is a good NBA player and if he can keep his head straight, he should eventually be able to fit in with Kobe Bryant and his Lakers.