Still Not Sold on Artest and Lakers
I'll admit that I don't know why, exactly. I know, I know, it doesn't make total sense. You drop a talented player like Artest onto the Lakers' roster and how can't it make them better, right?
I get it; I'm just not with you. There's just something uncertain about the Artest-to-the-Lakers move that I can't put my finger on.
Maybe it has something to do with the assumption Artest is no longer the volatile personality he's been in the past, or the supposition that coach Phil Jackson can keep Artest productive.
Those two things aren't locks. Sure, Artest seems to have toned things down in the past couple of years, but we've seen indications during that same period that he can still run right up to the edge at times. That he hasn't gone over recently is no assurance he won't soon.
And as great as Jackson is as a coach, he has had times in the past when players have not flourished or responded under him. Heck, Kobe Bryant has had stretches where Jackson didn't get the most out of him.
For everyone who mentions that Jackson brought out the best in Dennis Rodman, it also must be pointed out that Jackson didn't get the most out of Isaiah Rider (Remember: "Phillip?") or Mitch Richmond. How did Gary Payton do under Jackson?
Those were not dissimilar acquisitions than the Lakers getting Artest.
Part of this does have to do with Artest as a player. He does tend to dominate the ball, a no-no in the triangle offense. But it's also about the Lakers' dynamic, not only on the court but in the locker room.
It's not just Artest and Kobe. What about the rest of the locker room? What about Andrew Bynum's growth as a player? What about Derek Fisher's role in the locker room. The Lakers' chemistry has been honed to virtual perfection over the past couple of years.
Anytime you add and subtract from the roster you risk fooling with that. When the one added is Artest, isn't it fair to say the risk gets higher? That sure seems reasonable.
There is no doubt you can look at the Lakers and say (assuming they re-sign Lamar Odom) they've gotten better on paper. Artest is better than Trevor Ariza at this point.
But they play the game on the hardwood, and I'm not yet sold that the Lakers will be better there. But I'll admit ... I'm not exactly sure why.
More Steinmetz: @matt_steinmetz on twitter