The Hot Column

Wayland Radin

Ron Artest finally has a new home, but given his professional track record and general proclivity to unpredictability, it clearly remains to be seen just how long it will last. But, before examining his new situation, let’s quickly recap the events that lead him to this point.
Prior to last season Artest was generally regarded as talented but extremely volatile based on the technical fouls he committed and the failures to control his temper, some of which resulted in property damage.
Early in the 2004 season Artest asked his team for some time off from basketball to market a CD for his label “Tru Warrier” – which he also had shaved into he back of his head this year. The team responded by confining him to the end of the bench.
Soon after Artest was allowed back into the rotation, the Pacers played what has perhaps become their most famous game. During a game at Detroit Artest entered the stands after a fan threw beer on him, earning himself a season-long suspension.
Thus, despite his widely acknowledged talent and ability to shut down the opposing team’s best player, when he publicly asked for a trade, thereby alienating himself from his teammates, the Pacers had no choice but to oblige. The Pacers – and the rest of the league – knew there was no way they could get equal value for Artest, both because of his past and the unequivocal line the Pacers were forced to take with him. The Sacramento Kings tentatively offered their own malcontented
small forward, and after several weeks of intense rumor mongering completed a deal that sent Ron Artest to Sacramento in exchange for Peja Stojakovic.
Stojakovic is a liability on defense, has seemingly lost his 3-point stroke, and a free agent at the end of the year. However, the Pacers were lucky to get even as much as that because it was clear that they were prepared to keep Artest on the inactive list for the remainder of the season.
In light of this, it is almost as if the Pacers got Stojakovic for nothing. The upshot is that Artest is actually playing again and his addition should squeeze the Kings into the playoffs. If he makes it for the remainder of the season, that is.

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