Ron Artest to sign with Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers have signed free agent forward Ron Artest, it was announced today by General Manager Mitch Kupchak.  Per team policy, terms of the agreement were not released.

Artest, a 6’7” 260-pound forward out of St. John’s University, has averaged 16.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.06 steals in 604 career games (562 starts) during his 10 NBA seasons with Chicago, Indiana, Sacramento and Houston.   Originally selected by the Chicago Bulls with the 16th overall pick in the 1999 NBA draft, Artest is one of only three players in NBA history to post career averages of 16+ points, 5+ rebounds, 3+ assists and 2+ steals (Michael Jordan, Clyde Drexler).

The 2004 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Artest has been named NBA All-Defensive First Team twice (2004, 2006) and Second Team twice (2003, 2009).  A member of the 2004 Eastern Conference All-Star team, Artest also earned All-NBA Third Team honors in 2004 and has finished among the top three league leaders in steals five of the last eight seasons while leading his team in steals in nine of his 10 NBA seasons overall.

In 2008-09, Artest averaged 17.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.52 steals in 69 games (55 starts) with Houston while setting single-season career-highs in  3-point field goals made and attempted (.399, 153-383 3FG) and leading the Rockets in steals (105).

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INITIAL RON ARTEST LAKERS SIGNING UPDATE

By Jeff Lenchiner, editor of InsideHoops.com

Houston Rockets free agent forward Ron Artest is going to sign with the 2008-09 NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers.

The negotiation period for NBA free agents began July 1. Actual signings can take place starting July 8.

According to Chris Broussard of ESPN, the deal may be for three years and around $18 million.

As the Lakers add Artest it appears they will be losing energy hustle guy Trevor Ariza, who is reportedly going to sign with the Houston Rockets.

The addition of Artest to the current NBA champions is interesting. He helps in some ways, but doesn’t in others. He won’t replace the hectic, frantic, fill-in-the-blanks, complimentary, fast break style of Ariza, but is a better halfcourt defender. Artest is also much stronger than Ariza and can easily play power forward for long stretches.

Overall, Ron is definitely better than Trevor.

I question how well Artest will fit into the triangle offense of the Lakers, however. He can do it, but it’s not the most natural fit.

Ariza last season  averaged just 8.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game, shooting 46% but just 31.9% from three-point range. Though, in the playoffs he suddenly became an assassin from outside, nailing 47.6% of his threes.

Artest last season for the Rockets put up 17.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.5 steals per game, though he shot an awful 40.1%. He was nice from three-point range, though, hitting 39.9%.

Overall, adding Artest while losing Ariza is an upgrade for the Lakers, though I’ll still keep my eye on how well Artest fits in with their offense.

And, key Lakers forward Lamar Odom is currently a free agent. The team needs to keep Odom, and a source says the team feels they’ll be able to re-sign him.

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