Two days ago most news outlets reported the Ron Artest for Peja Stojakovic trade as "completed, pending league approval." Then Ron Ron torpedoed the deal by publicly debating whether he would report to Sacramento. After a meeting yesterday between Artest, his agent, and Donnie Walsh and Larry Bird of the Pacers, the deal has been finalized. I say this with the greatest sense of irony--Ron Artest is a King.
My initial thoughts were, "good deal for both teams."
In Artest, (when he's mentally stable) the Kings get a legit top-20 player, and Sacramento is now a contender for one of the last playoff seeds out West. The more-frequent Artest matchups against Kobe, T-Mac, and Ginobili guarantee a few more Sacramento games on TNT/ESPN. The Kings were bad before this trade--now they can strive for mediocrity.
In Peja, instead of that giant sucking noise coming from Artest's vacant locker, the Pacers get a three-time All-Star who could excel playing the inside/outside game with Jermaine O'Neal. Furthermore, should the Pacers decide they want a guy who can actually hit a clutch shot in the post-season, they can always settle for cap relief and let Peja walk after the season. (Yet another scenario has the Pacers shipping Peja to Golden State for Troy Murphy.)
Sacramento had to do something; the Pacers got something for nothing. Makes sense, right? Well, I'm not so sure anymore. The Kings got what amounted to a do-over after the first trade fell apart. They caught a glimpse of what life would be like with Ron Ron and--I thought, smartly--called off the deal. Artest and his agent had publicly criticized not only the Kings, but the city of Sacramento as well--why would they want him now? (I'm actually hoping this ends terribly for the Kings--in flames even--given Sac-town's potshots at the city of Detroit earlier this year.)
From a Pistons fan perspective, its all good. One of the most hated figures in Detroit sports history has been sent to purgatory (Sacramento), and since the Pistons have already swept the Kings this season, its highly unlikely that they will face Crazy Ron again before next season. And while the Pacers will be improved, my buddy Nate astutely points out that they could have been a much tougher matchup for the Pistons had they completed the rumored Artest for Corey Maggette swap with the Clippers. Let's also hope that this also limits the incessant brawl references we'd have heard during upcoming contests against Indiana.
In short (and despite my long-windedness), good riddance.
Done deal: Pacers trade Artest to Kings for Peja [ESPN]
A. Sherrod Blakeley's Blog [MLive]