King-no-more Ron Artest was all smiles while flexing at the Berto Center in 2001. (Richard A. Champman/Sun-Times)
When it comes to matters pertaining to the NBA, we here at Sports Pros(e) defer to our friend and resident night owl Mike Lansu. Unlike the real players, he promises to play tight defense even in the regular season.
BY MIKE LANSU
Houston electronics consumers beware: Rapper NBA player Ronald William Artest Jr. is coming to Space City.
The Sacramento Kings agreed Tuesday to send forward Ron Artest to the Houston Rockets for Bobby Jackson, Donte Green and a 2009 first round draft pick.
Initial reaction: Obtaining Artest — the 2004 NBA Defensive Player of the Year and a guy who averaged 20.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.33 steals per game last season — for a guy best known for leading the Minnesota Golden Gophers to the 1997 Final Four (Showtime Jackson), a guy best known for not leading the Syracuse Orange (Green) to the NCAA Tournament and a potential NBADL All-Star (the draft pick) is a feather in the Rockets’ cap(s). (NOTE: The 1997 Golden Gophers were stripped of their Final Four appearance and Big Ten title because of academic rules violations. It is not known if Showtime went to class.)
Further analysis: Classic NBA trade where both teams get worse.
While “team chemistry” is usually just a term sports writers use so they don’t have to do actual research and back up their opinions with stats, Artest is one of the exceptions to the rule (Don’t worry, there will be stats too). Why would a team that finished 55-27 (fifth in the Western Conference and third in the Southwest Division) in a season when Yao Ming missed 29 games and Tracy McGrady missed 21 games want to add a guy who: applied for a job at a Circuit City store for the employee discount as a member of the Chicago Bulls; showed up to practice in a bath robe as a member of the Indiana Pacers; allegedly asked the Pacers for a month off because he was tired from promoting an R & B album; had his pet dogs confiscated by police as a member of the Sacramento Kings; and was also arrested for domestic abuse while with the Kings.
Even if team chemistry has nothing to do with winning games (see Manny Ramirez, Boston Red Sox), Artest makes no sense for the Rockets. Houston was the second best defensive team in The Association last season, and adding one of the game’s best defenders can only make them marginally better. Offensively, the Rockets were a middle-of-the-pack team, and Artest won’t change that.
AND NOW FOR THE STATS: The Rockets shot 44.8-percent from the field last season. Artest is a career 42.5-percent shooter. The Rockets shot 34.2-percent from behind the arc last season. Artest is a career 32.9-percent three-point shooter. The Rockets shot 72.6-percent from the free throw line last season. Artest is a career 72-percent shooter from the charity stripe. This is an improvement?
Furthermore, the Rockets projected starting five hasn’t exactly done a good job of staying on the court, and Artest is no exception. Houston’s top five averaged the following number of games the last three seasons: Rafer Alston (73), McGrady (61), Shane Battier (81), Artest (56) and Ming (53). Except for Battier — and arguably Alston — this is one unreliable group. It’s not unreasonable to expect a starting five of Alson, Brent Barry, Battier, Luis Scola and Dikembe Mutombo at some point this season. And that lineup — even with a deep bench that includes Chuck Hayes, Luther Head and Carl Landry — has virtually no chance to compete with the talented teams in the Western Conference.
So what does Artest bring to the Rockets? WOMEN