July 30, 2008
Things are about to get a lot more interesting for Rockets Nation. According to the Houston Chronicle, the Rockets and Kings have a deal in place centered on extremely talented and extremely mercurial forward Ron Artest. Details of the swap are sketchy at this point, and nothing will be finalized for a few weeks, but here’s how it looks at the moment:
“The Rockets will give up guard Bobby Jackson, a No. 1 draft pick next season and another player that the individual with knowledge of the trade could not name. Rockets general manager Daryl Morey declined to comment.
Rookie forward Donte’ Greene, whom the Rockets acquired in a series of draft-night trades, will be included in the trade and is considered a key to the deal for the Kings. But because Greene signed July 14, he cannot be traded until Aug. 14 and the deal cannot be finalized or discussed publicly by team officials until Aug. 14.
The Rockets are also expected to acquire another player or players in the deal to make the money match, but Artest is the only player that the Rockets will acquire that will remain on the roster. The Rockets will also send the Kings roughly $1 million.”
Ron Artest Photo Credit: Icon SMI
Depending on which Ron Artest shows up in Texas this could be a steal or a colossal gaffe. When his head is on straight there are few players in the NBA that can have as significant an impact on both ends of the floor as Artest can. He’s one of the best defenders in the league and an absolute bull at 6-7 and 248 pounds.
Then again, this guy has never had his head screwed on straight for an entire season. From his controversial days in Chicago to the brawl at the Palace of Auburn Hills to the domestic abuse charges last summer to his bizarre handling of his contract with the Kings this summer, and everywhere in between, one thing has become undeniably clear: the guy is batshit crazy.
Ron Artest’s volatile chemistry, or lack thereof, is especially significant for the Rockets. Fighting through injuries to Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming last season this team got by as much on team chemistry as any squad in the league. It’s also a team with a clearly defined pecking order of McGrady first, Ming second and everybody else a distant third — something that may not sit well with Artest, who is known to have more confidence in his offensive game that he probably should.
Still, this deal gives Houston a top-flight defender and capable scorer: Artest was the 2004 NBA Defensive Player of the Year and averaged 20.5 points a game last season. He’s a gamer. Ron Ron is capable of guarding anyone from power forwards to shooting guards, though I do wonder how he’s going to fit into an established rotation with 6-8 small forward Shane Battier and 6-8 shooting guard Tracy McGrady. The Chronicle suggests that Houston could finish games with Artest at power forward and Battier at small forward, or go big and have McGrady play the point while Battier and Artest shift to off guard and small forward.
It’s been a quiet offseason for Houston, but this news comes on the heels of a positive report about franchise cornerstone Yao Ming. The 7-6 center scored 21 points in China’s 83-74 win over Angola Tuesday in the Diamond Tournament. Ming hit 8 of his 10 shots to go along with 5 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. That bodes well for a full recovery from a broken foot that sidelined the big man down the stretch last season.
The deal is far from finalized and it remains to be seen how these pieces will fit together, but you have to think a core of Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady, Shane Battier and Ron Artest will be a force to be reckoned with out West next season.
More on this one after it’s finalized.