In internet years, this rumor already decades old, but I haven't touched officially on it yet and would like to offer my two cents. Sam Amick of the Sacramento Bee recently listed several possible destinations for Ron Artest and surprisingly included Detroit:
Could this be why Artest was so interested in interviewing brawl instigator John Green a while back? It would be a brilliant PR move if the Pistons were looking to put a package together for Artest.
And from what I was told from one source close to the Pistons, they are. I've yet to get this info from more than one person, so stay tuned. But much like the Mavs' situation, this could be one of those where the player the Kings want (perhaps Tayshaun Prince) would be different than the one offered (Jason Maxiell, anyone?). Pure speculation on my part in terms of the potential pieces.
For PR reasons alone, I'd be shocked if the Pistons pulled the trigger unless they could get him for 50 cents on the dollar, and given the alleged league-wide interest in Artest, I'm not sure that will ever happen. But let's say it did ... would you endorse the move?
Call me crazy, but I would. Strictly speaking from a basketball perspective, Artest is an incredible talent. He's an extremely strong and physical player capable of guarding the best player on the opposing team, regardless of position. I enjoy watching Tayshaun Prince as much as anyone, but would Artest ever let LeBron James score 25 straight? Would he allow Paul Pierce to slice and dice the defense? No chance.
No one wants to win more than Artest. He's notorious for playing as hard in the opening minutes of a game as he does down the stretch of a close game -- he only has one gear. When the Kings came to town in January, Artest was playing just his second game after missing nine with an elbow injury. He was awful during a 25-point loss in his first game back in Toronto, and talking with him two nights later, I remember being surprised at how his performance was still eating at him:
"I was pissed. I was pissed that we lost. I was pissed that I came back and I couldn't help my team win. I was pissed at myself. I just felt like I let my team down, I was so pissed. We talked about it when we got back to the hotel and everybody was back on the same page." [...] "Right after the game I got dressed and Reggie [Theus] finished talking and I left. I just walked back to the hotel, I was so pissed. Lost by about 20 points, that's not fun."
The Pistons have had guys like Antonio McDyess wear their heart on their sleeves like this in the playoffs, but this was after a regular season game in January. Yeah, I'll take an attitude like that in the locker room any day.
I know, I know ... but isn't Artest a little crazy? Don't believe the caricature the media has painted of him, because he's probably one of the most complex guys in the NBA. Read this interview he did with The Starting Five in December -- it's one of the most thoughtful and introspective interviews you'll ever find, and it sheds some light on the other side of Artest that we rarely get to see.
Hell, I'm not even mad anymore about the Malice at the Palace -- I pin that ugly chapter of Pistons lore on John Green. (And besides, Charles Barkley once brawled with the fans at the Palace -- does that still define who he is? Of course not. If Artest's involvement in that incident is still a poison pill to accepting everything else he brings to the table, you need a broader sense of perspective.)
In the end, none of this really matters -- I'd be absolutely shocked if the Pistons actually pulled the trigger, especially if it involved giving up squeaky clean Tay. But is this something I'd like to see? Absolutely.