Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Welcoming the NBA's Craziest Player

Let me begin by saying, I like that my favorite NBA team has never been afraid to make a big splash.

The Rockets have a history of making large, aggressive moves. Look at the names they've dealt and dealt for in just MY lifetime: Tracy McGrady, Steve Francis, Dikembe Mutombo, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen, and now Ron Artest. This ain't roleplayer-for-cash-considerations swaps we're making here.

Owner Les Alexander, former GM Carroll Dawson and now Dawson's heir apparent, Daryl Morey, see the Houston Rockets as a premier NBA franchise - and as a fan, you have to appreciate that, especially when you're from a city that is sizable in populace but largely ignored by the national media.

I love this move on several different levels. For one, he only has a one year deal. If Certifiably-Insane-RonRon skips his Paxil dosage and throws a shit-fit or two, we can Bonzi Wells him and trot out the same team that copped a 4 seed last year despite significant missed time from Yao and T-Mac. That's the WORST case scenario.

Best case, he adds the additional wing scorer that Tracy so desperately needed (see: Game 2 of the Utah series this year, when nobody but T-Mac could create their own shot), a third banana to our two mega-stars. He allows McGrady to take the number 2 or number 3 offensive option on defense, dependent on whether or not Battier AND Artest are on the floor with him together. Tracy will be more refreshed on O, consummate team player Battier becomes Bruce Bowen without Satan horns, and both Yao and Tracy face fewer double-teams.

Also, if and when McGrady's back flares up, Artest gives us another seasoned primary scoring option. This isn't even taking into account that Luis Scola improved offensively as he adapted to the American game, Rafer Alston took a leap forward last year under Adelman, and Carl Landry will only get better in his 2nd season. Oh, and they added veteran depth with Brent Barry signing in the off-season.

Look at it this way: who do you want in a matchup with the Lakers (who the Rockets beat in the season series 2-1 last year) - Baby Bynum and his knee, or Chairman Yao and his recovering foot? A soft Gasol, or a 2-headed forward tandem of Landry and Scola? Lamar Odom or Ron Artest? I would ask Kobe or Tracy, but that answer's obviously #24. Derek Fisher, one year older, or Skip with another year of seasoning? A bench of Battier-Barry-(maybe Mutombo, Francis)-Head, or Walton-Sasha-Farmar? The matchup now is certainly closer than yesterday.

Could we win a title with Ron Artest? Hard to say - but we did win with Vernon Maxwell. And he was fucking INSANE.

At least there's a precedent.

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