EDIT: Thursday at 5:30 PM
Though it may still be fun to think about what might have been.
It's looking like Artest isn't returning to the Rockets.
He just twittered ""Thanks a lot Houston I had alot of fun "
Now that's out there, I'll present my case for making a run at Ron Artest.
Our biggest problem last year was defense. Yeah, the Playoffs stunk because we couldn't get a consistent 3rd scorer which Turkoglu would definitely solve. I think fans (and possibly management) are looking too closely at what bounced us from the Playoffs and not enough at what limited us during the regular season.
If the NBA were NBA Jam Tournament Edition, I'd give Artest an 8 at steals, an 8 at power, and a 6 at blocks. I'd give Turkoglu a 4 at steals, a 4 at power, and a 4 at blocks.
You may say, "What if we run into another team like the Rockets in the postseason next year? We'd have too few scoring options again. Not having Turkoglu would get us right back to where we started." I'd respond "Though not by as much as Turkoglu, Artest is a better scoring option than Batum." Second, I'd say, "Now that WE have Artest, one of the guys who made life horrible for us in the Playoffs, we aren't running into a team like the Rockets next year." That team was custom-built to defeat elite shooting guards, with two premier perimeter defenders and a giant in the post. They beat us and had a real shot at beating Kobe if Yao hadn't been hurt. That team won't exist next year, and we're unlikely to see another one.
Again with NBA Jam TE, I'd give Artest a 7 at speed, a 7 at 3pt (he shot 40% last year), a 4 at passing, and a 7 at dunks. I'd give Turk a 6 at speed, a 7 at 3pt, (and that's generous, I know he's better than his 36% last year, but maybe not), an 8 at passing, and a 5 at dunks.
With all this talk of Ariza making $7-8 million, why not get the same guy, just 5 years older and light-years ahead offensively, for essentially the same price? There's no way you can convince me that Artest is worth less than Turkoglu, though for some reason there is much more talk about Turkoglu as the premier FA this summer. Artest has been rumored to be interested in taking the MLE from Cleveland to play with a contender. Anybody think we could convince him to come to a tier-2 contender for a few million more per year? I think so.
Admit it Blazer fans. KP has turned this team around to the point where winning is the first priority. We remember the Jail Blazer days, but the wound is no longer fresh. The culture has been turned around and our players are at the top of the sporting world in terms of likeability. I think the people of Portland can stomach the idea of getting one stinker for the sake of a push to the championship. Plus, Ron is really weird and a funny interview, and could find a strange niche in Portland like Channing Frye did, and his worst days seem behind him. A part of me misses the days where we *gasp!* received a technical foul occasionally. Artest brings street cred, yo.
And honestly, if we had the opportunity to sign Artest and make a serious push towards the top of the league and KP turned it down because of culture, a lot of people here would be pretty upset.
We all remember what Ron said about Roy after Game 2. I think Ron wants to win badly enough to defer his sometimes crazy offensive game to Roy when the time is right.
Well there, I did it. Go ahead, freak out if you want to. It's not like he ever punched his OWN fans.
Bonus: NBA Jam TE ratings for the three guys mentioned here.
5 3PTS (He shot 31% last year, don't let the playoffs fool you)
0 Block (The Rudy-smack brings this down to zero)
? Clutch (Never taken a big shot in his life)