Friday, January 13, 2006

I'll Trade you Artest for Hudson and a Tazer to be named later

If speculation is true, the Minnesota Timberwolves are interested in acquiring Ron Artest from the Pacers. There are many combinations of players involved, including Wally Szczerbiak, Trenton Hassell, Michael Olawokandi, and Rashad McCants. The first question has to be do the Wolves need Artest?

Artest is attractive primarily because he is underpaid for an All-Star. He is also a defensive stopper that can still score 20-25 points a night. These traits apparently outweigh his history of poor decisions and short temper. This is the guy that requested time off to finishing producing an R&B CD, and then weeks later ensured his time off by attacking a fan in Detroit. (The CD sold 1,200 copies in the first two weeks, ouch)

Talent, especially cheap talent, always gets more leeway from coaches and GM’s. Ego tells an executive that they can create success where others failed. In some cases this works out, like Rasheed Wallace in Detroit. Typically any success is a short term solution. The value Artest brings to a team is comparable to Terrell Owens in Philadelphia. The Eagles finally made the Super Bowl thanks in part to a motivated and focused Owens. As soon as the honeymoon ended, the Eagles had to hit the eject button.

The only deal that makes sense for the Pacers would include Szczerbiak. Wally has returned to All-Star form and his salary is much higher than the TruWarrior Artest (his words not mine). So for the salaries to match up would mean the Wolves take back dead salaries like Austin Croshere or Scott Pollard.

Trading McCants would be a mistake, basically giving up on their lottery pick. Trenton Hassell would make sense by trading defense for defense, but the Wolves would still need to include someone else. I doubt the Pacers would welcome Olawokandi, and Indianapolis’ club Tiki Bob’s would surely not.

So there really is no workable option I can see. The greater problem with the Timberwolves is they are a borderline playoff team, let alone title contender. Even if they had a workable trade, it wouldn’t make sense. The best this team can hope for is to make the playoffs. Artest won’t improve on this destiny, but could easily damage it.