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Signing Ron Artest is a smart move by Lakers

Artest can help the Lakers slow down players such as LeBron James, Paul Pierce and Carmelo Anthony.

July 04, 2009|Mike Bresnahan

Staff writer Mike Bresnahan ties up some loose ends after an unpredictable start for the Lakers in free agency.

Q&A of the day

Question: "I couldn't wait to see what you thought of this nightmare. I was really hoping it was just a bad dream since I fell asleep to SportsCenter . . . unfortunately it's not.

"I'm really upset. I'm sure you caught Ron Artest's interview [on ESPN] where he said we need to be 'hoodalized'? Yup, that's just what we need?!? I just don't get it . . . I just don't get it."

--Ryan Kert, Simi Valley

Answer: Artest has been with the Lakers for barely a day, and he's already inventing words. I love it.

Unlike a lot of people, including two of our sports columnists, I actually like this move.

Plaschke has already ripped it, and Simers would have too if he weren't taking yet another vacation, but I think it's a quirkily brilliant idea.

I'm not going to say the Lakers need more hoodalizing, but let's remember a little more than a month ago when Denver physically pounded them to tie the Western Conference finals at two games each. I thought the Lakers were done. Toast.

They obviously toughened up enough to win those next two games, as well as the Finals, but I think this move was done with an eye toward the Eastern Conference. Now they have someone to slow down LeBron James. And Paul Pierce. (And also Carmelo Anthony . . . can't totally ignore the West.)

This is a good acquisition for the Lakers. To paraphrase Sally Field: I like it. I really, really like it!

What about the O Show?

The Lakers still want Lamar Odom back, but he has to come down from his $10-million-a-year demand, because the Lakers are already about $10 million deep in luxury tax penalties . . . with only 11 players on their roster.

In other words, if they sign Odom for $10 million next season, they'll be paying another $10 million in taxes because of the dollar-for-dollar penalty levied against teams over the tax threshold. That would be close to a $20-million tax bill. Ouch.

The compromise: Odom signs a one-year deal with the Lakers for about $7.5 million and can test free agency again next season, when more teams will have money to spend in anticipation of Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and James becoming free agents.

And PJ?

The fact that Phil Jackson decided to come back is a testament to how he thinks this team will fare.

Why else would he spend time during his annual retreat to his lakeside Montana home to talk to one of the zaniest players in NBA history?

Here's why: He pushed for the Artest signing. He likes the guy. He's dealt with off-the-wall types before (Dennis Rodman, anybody?) and looks forward to the test of coaching Artest.

After Jackson's done lighting firecrackers by the lake over the holiday weekend, he'll start figuring out ways to tell Artest to stop shooting and dribbling unnecessarily.

Final thought

If you're reading this online, print it out. If you're reading it in the paper, grab the scissors and start cutting.

The Artest signing will only help the Lakers.

There, I'm on record saying it. Take that, Plaschke and Simers.


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