NBA Experience: 12 years
Contract Status: Signed thru 2013-14 (Player option for 2012-13)
2010-11 Averages: 8.5ppg, 3.2rpg, 1.5spg, 39% FG, 35% 3PT, 67% FT
By all accounts this was Ron Ron’s worst year as a professional. He had career lows in most every statistical category. To be sure Artest wasn’t brought into the Laker fold for his scoring prowess but he was expected to knock down open jumpers and be a viable third or fourth option depending on the personnel he plays with.
From a defensive standpoint Artest is still among the best in the business but the years are creeping up on him. Ron’s hands are as quick as you’ll ever see and it’s routine that he rips the rock from opposing players. Those moments are great and what make Ron valuable.
What doesn’t help is that in two seasons he never grasped the triangle and more often than not looked lost on the court offensive side.
With a pair of tired legs, Artest limped his way through the season. His blown dunk in Dallas best sums up Ron’s current health. No longer explosive it will be up to Artest to find more creative ways to contribute now that father time is knocking on his door.
As far as Ron’s future with the Lakers goes, that’s as uncertain as the current labor situation.
With a contract that isn’t appealing to any suitors, trading Artest isn’t much of an option unless he’s part of a bigger deal where matching salaries is involved. Giving Ron a reduced role would require a better option at the 3 but that isn’t an option at this point either. Right about now we’re not even sure of his name. Do we call him Ron or Metta?
Despite his many off-court antics, Artest remains focused and dedicated to the team. He might enjoy Hollywood but Ron is far from being Hollywood. That alone is a testament to his maturity level which has grown exponentially since he first broke into the NBA.
You get the feeling that Artest is a sleeping giant. Never forget this a man that was dropping 20+ a night in his prime and was giving the NBA’s best offensive players fits. He might not ever get back to that level but you don’t lose your game this rapidly even if you’re past your prime. Phil Jackson’s motivational tactics rubbed Ron the wrong way so hopefully Mike Brown’s approach will get the best of what left’s in Atrest’s tank.
With regards to Brown and his staff, they’re going to have to figure out a role that best utilizes Ron in whatever capacity will best benefit the team. When the Lakers let Trevor Ariza walk they lost an athletic wing that was becoming a knock down shooter. Artest was supposed to provide a similar shooting stroke while giving the Lake Show more versatility on the defensive end. Nobody is going to say the Lakers made a mistake as of yet but should Ron have another season like the 2010-11 campaign you’d better believe the chants for Ariza will begin to rain down from the 300 section at Staples.