The latest from Ron-Ron -- who you may remember from such stunts as giving his cell phone number out to the general public -- is that he's not at all happy with the way things ended with the Rockets. Specifically, he claims that they "did him dirty" by "messing up" his Bird rights, and because of this, he plans on carrying out a vendetta against them as long as he's in the league.
Over two separate Twitter dispatches, Artest explains why he's upset.
"Houston did me dirty. I can't wait til next year when we go to Houston. I'm not shooting. All defense. Somebody getting locked da f**k up."
"I still feel blessed but they messed up my bird rights. So it's on as long as I'm in the league."
Now of course, we all love imaginary reasons for players to feud with other teams. Who can forget the entertainment value of Gilbert Arenas' revenge tour of the 2006-07 season? But the issue that Artest raises as the basis for his future actions on the court against the Rockets really doesn't seem to be one that's all that legitimate.
Artest had these rights in Houston, and had the Rockets done a sign-and-trade with the Lakers (for Trevor Ariza, maybe?), he would continue to have them in Los Angeles. Since he left as a free agent, though, the "clock" resets, and he'll have to play three years on his current deal to earn them again.
But in Artest's current situation with the Lakers, it seems like a moot point.
Artest signed a five-year deal to play in Los Angeles, and actually did so for less than he made in his one season in Houston. Since he isn't going to be a free agent until he regains his Bird rights, those rights are somewhat useless to him right now. Especially considering that the team is well over the cap at the moment anyway -- so much so that team owner Jerry Buss was willing to let Lamar Odom walk if Odom didn't lower his asking price.
So is Artest justified in holding a grudge against his former team, and threatening some sort of revenge against them for all of this? Of course not. But anytime a player goes on the record as saying "it's on" against another team, you can guarantee we'll all be watching a little more closely.