Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Artesting Our Patience

Over the last month or so, Ron Artest has been nothing more than a frustration for his owners – both in real life and in fantasy. The situation came to head last night, as he screwed up his trade to the Kings by announcing that he didn’t want to play for them. Now, you can’t blame the Kings for pulling out of the deal when they realized he would be a problem for them. Now, the Pacers and Ron’s fantasy owners are still stuck in a situation where they are getting absolutely nothing out of a prime-time player that they made a big investment in.

So, after the latest development in the Artest situation, which way will his value go? To me, there’s one big plus and one big minus for Artest owners moving forward. Let’s look at both of them.

The Plus: Artest will not go to a place where he will simply be a role player.

There may be no sound reasoning to Artest’s decision not to play for the Kings, but now that his feelings are going to be taken into account, we know that he’ll only go into a situation where he’ll be given a chance to be a star. Apparently he didn’t feel that Sacramento was a place for that to happen. When you hear this quote from Artest – “I'm letting my agent handle things. He's taken over things.” – what it really means is, “if I’m going to pack my bags, you’d better believe I’m going to want a contract extension.” No team is going to give Artest a big-money contract extension unless they’re ready to make him their premier player. The Kings weren’t ready to do that – and really, can you blame them? – and I’m not really sure that any team will be ready to do that either.

The Minus: This might not be over until after the season is though.

First, there was this gem from Artest: “If I have to sit out, I sit out the season.” So he doesn’t seem to have much motivation to get back on the court right now. Then there was the report that the Pacers could look to put Artest on unpaid suspension after this stunt, which would make them much less desperate to make a trade. Should Artest end up being unpaid, the Pacers may figure they’re better off waiting until the offseason where it’s easier to move big contracts. That would simply spell disaster for Artest owners, but the worst part is that the Pacers are unlikely to make an announcement to this effect.

The other concerning thing (ok, there are many here) is the deal that Artest ruined. Peja-for-Artest has been on the table for about a year now, and the fact that this was the one the Pacers finally tried to pull the trigger on means that the market out there just isn’t getting better. The only other team that’s been mentioned with any regularity in this thing is the Warriors, and that’s just not a very good match.

Both in the NBA and in fantasy leagues right now, Artest’s value is at an all-time low. Unfortunately for you fantasy owners, though, the Pacers have an option in front of them that you don’t have – the option of waiting until the end of the season is over to take care of this. Now, granted, this deal could end up going through later today or tomorrow and make this all moot, but for now, you’ve got to think pretty seriously about whether or not Artest belongs on your team right now – and what you might be able to get for him in a trade.

So does he belong on your team? That all depends. There’s no bigger risk than Artest right now. I said a few weeks ago that if you can get a solid starter for Artest, you should take it – something around a 6th round value, maybe even 8th. I’ll still stand by that statement. If you’re sitting near the bottom of your league standings, though, Artest is a great guy to target right now. You can likely get him for pennies on the dollar. It’s a total gamble. You feelin’ lucky?


Blogger T-Plan said...

I was wondering how long you guys could look the other way on the Artest situation, and this last little development must have been enough to get you back on the topic!

Anyway, it sounds like the media has started a big mess over unsubstantiated comments. Apparently Artest never said "I hate the thought of playing for the Kings" - completely fabricated.

The latest reports are that he actually said "I don't want to play in Sacramento until I've had a chance to meet with the team officials to discuss my situation." His dumb-ass agent f'd up the message when relaying to the Kings and they balked. Also, the latest I've seen is that there was never really a finished deal submitted to the league office, but they did get really close before the Maloofs decided to back off and reconsider. In fact, Joe Maloof said last night that they had reached an impasse and he wants to see what they can get done "on Wednesday".

That doesn't sound at all like the BS the media has been feeding us, but if you research enough you can find it. Look at this quote:

Kings owner Joe Maloof said the swap of Artest for Kings sharp-shooter Peja Stojakovic was not officially off the table. "It's not over," he told the Bloomberg News agency. "It's not dead yet. We'll sleep on it and work at it again [Wednesday]."

I wouldn't be surprised if the trade still happens today or tomorrow. Now that Peja knows they want to trade him, don't expect to see him playing again on the current 6 game road trip.

Keep up the good work - you guys have the best, most useful basketball blog I've seen online.

2:33 PM  
Blogger T-Plan said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:38 PM  
Blogger T-Plan said...

Also, the following just came out at 2:30 EST today:

In a meeting with Pacers management, forward Ron Artest has reportedly agreed to play for the Kings. According to ESPN's Jim Gray, the trade with Sacramento involving forward Peja Stojakovic is back on pending a conversation between Artest and Kings' ownership.

Can you tell I'm one of those Ron-Ron owners? I've been following every bit of news since December 11.

2:40 PM  
Blogger bv said...

yeah, see, the problem with writing an artest article is almost as soon as you write it, it's out of date. at least this one latest a good 4 hours or so. oh well. Good luck with him!

4:24 PM  
Blogger T-Plan said...

Thanks BV - I'll need it!

I'm very glad the trade is happening now. In my league, we are doing a manual IL since we drafted before the NBA announced it. As a result, a couple of teams took risks in the draft (e.g. Amare Stoudemire), assuming they wouldn't have to carry dead weight in a valuable roster spot until March.

Anyway, I stashed Artest on IL when he went down with a wrist injury in December, and he has been sitting there until now since they never confirmed that he is healthy enough to play.

Now? Gerald Wallace just went down for 4-6 weeks and I was planning to switch the 2 players out anyway, crossing my fingers for a quick trade. Hopefully Ron is on the court in time for when I can activate him for Monday's games!

5:33 PM  
Blogger DM said...

OK, I'm taking an informal poll for anyone who looks down here. Over the rest of the season, Ron Artest will...

1) Play in at least 35 of the Kings remaining 40 games and perform as a top 25 fantasy player. (In other words, worth the wait, at least relatively speaking.)

2) Play in at least 35 of the Kings remaining 40 games and perform as a top 50 fantasy player. (Sort of worth the wait.)

3) Play in at least 35 of the Kings remaining 40 games and perform as a top 100 fantasy player. (We waited all that time for this.)

4) Miss a large portion of time due to NBA suspension. (Stern, but fair.)

5) Miss a large portion of time due to team-implemented suspension. (Don't front on the Maloofs.)

6) Be the subject of continued trade rumors.

7) Bite Brad Miller in the face.

8) Have much public support after biting Brad Miller in the face, because Brad Miller's an ass.

6:55 PM  
Anonymous Andy said...

I'm going with 5), 6), 7), and 8).

7:00 PM  
Blogger Biggs said...

Definitely 6. I vote for 5. And I hope for 7.

7:54 PM  
Blogger Rook said...

I vote for 5 and 6. He will NOT be happy in Sacramento and will not want to show up to practice.

I also have a random column suggestion -- people talk about "punting" a category often. You've mentioned that it's really hard to win a league with a "1" in a category. Given that, is it ever worth it to punt a category? At what point in the season? I think this can be an especially relevant question in turnovers, where all a league's top teams tend to struggle (because they have more elite players who handle the ball).

11:22 PM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

I don't see why Ron wouldn't be happy in Sacramento. Sure, they're having a bad year, but they have talent to work with. Artest is undisputibly an outstanding defender but wanted to "prove" that he could be a dual threat on the offensive end too.

Well, here is his chance. Replacing Peja, known for ONLY playing offense, he'll need to step up in the wing spot and provide offense, especially with Bonzi Wells still sidelined.

Assuming Ron puts out the way that we know he is capable of, the Kings look to have a very solid front five with Bibby/Wells*/Artest/SAR/Miller. Artest will get the chance to show that he is an elite wing player and Sacramento is good enough to win many games this yaer and definately be a major player next year.

Anyways, as a person who's held onto Artest since draft day, I'm happy he's back (and in the fantasy heaven of sacramento for crying out loud), especially since G. Wallace just went down.

Anyways, it's about freakin time.

11:35 PM  
Blogger T-Plan said...

I agree with Jeremy. Artest is just what the Kings need. As insane as his career has been, the guy is an elite talent. You don't have to like him, but he'll get his. And now that he has so much to prove, he'll get through this season on the court - count on it.

As for the starting lineup, don't pencil in Shareef as the starter for the rest of the season yet. Kenny Thomas has been lighting it up and Rick Adelman has a potential platoon or position controversy on his hands.

Here are his stats over the past 30 days, see what you think:
FG%: 0.513
FT%: 0.735
Points: 13.1
Boards: 9.7
Assists: 3.1
Steals: 0.9
Blocks: 0.3

If Kenny Thomas can get 3+ assists/game with floor time, imagine what Ron Artest can do. He has averaged close to 2.5 assists/game over the past several years, in an offense that "didn't suit him".

Additionally, he was playing half-heartedly in Indiana this season (was very obvious), and had a wrist injury that lingered from October through mid-December (maybe longer). That negatively impacted his points, boards, blocks, and FT%.

He'll be top 25 for as many games as he can stay on the court. If he has any semblance of sanity left in his head, he will realize this could be his last chance to play in the NBA. How's that for motivation?

10:06 AM  
Blogger bv said...

i agree with Jeremy, too. I mean, both Artest AND the Kings have way too much invested in this for it NOT to work. Not that I have any ability to predict ron's behavior, obviously.

11:12 AM  

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