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Observation Deck

An Artest trade that needs to happen and more notes

Posted: Tuesday December 26, 2006 12:09PM; Updated: Tuesday December 26, 2006 3:25PM
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Ron Artest (right) might be better off leaving Sacramento for the Clippers.
Ron Artest (right) might be better off leaving Sacramento for the Clippers.
Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images
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The NBA was rocked to its core on Sunday when news of a sensible trade that would seemingly benefit both sides hit the street in the form of the Los Angeles Times' Sunday edition. The scuttle says that Ron Artest, who can't be persuaded to take the court these days in Sacramento purple, could go to the Clippers for scoring swingman Corey Maggette in a swap Los Angeles nearly consummated with Artest's former team in Indiana last winter.

The deal needs to go down. It will hardly act as a panacea for either squad, but it will recharge both and serve as a bit of motivation as things start to get serious. Both the Kings (11-14 through Monday) and Clippers (11-15) are underachieving, as both of the burly players in question have fallen into distraction mode. Maggette far less than Artest, of course. Maggette has been dealing with trade rumors for a year and a half and has been pretty professional through the whole thing. His play has been quite good, but this didn't stop him from asking for a trade via his agent.

Artest has been throwing lobs through the media at point guard Mike Bibby (struggling, to be sure, but also playing through injuries) and new coach Eric Musselman. He pulled out of a nationally televised loss to Washington just minutes before tip-off last Thursday, and has worn out his welcome after a 10-month test drive.

The Kings should send Artest and defensive point guard Jason Hart (Sam Cassell has plantar fasciitis, an injury that just doesn't go away) to the Clippers for Maggette and Yaroslav Korolev, a former lottery pick who has shown nothing in limited minutes.

Nobody gets hurt in a deal like this. Until, of course, the Kings realize that Maggette (despite all his talent and dogged determination) isn't the answer to making them a strong playoff team, and the Clippers realize just how much Ron Ron thinks of his offensive repertoire.

• Back in February 2005, the Denver Nuggets took a little heat for sending Rodney White and Nikoloz Tskitishvili to the Golden State Warriors for Eduardo Najera, Luis Flores and Dallas' 2007 first-round pick (which the Warriors owned). The Nuggets weren't lambasted for losing White and Skita, who were hardly great shakes, but for the cap implications behind the deal.

Had Denver been able to dump its own first-round pick in 2005, and passed on trading for Najera, the salary-cap space afforded by White's and Tskitishvili's expiring contracts (coupled with the cap increase in the 2005 offseason) could have allowed the Nuggets to chase a free-agent shooting guard like Ray Allen, Michael Redd or Larry Hughes.

Who would know, nearly two years later, that a lower-rung first-round pick would be one of the deciding factors in eventually netting the Nuggets Allen Iverson? The lesson, as Orlando's Otis Smith (in acquiring eventual cap space and Trevor Ariza from New York), Toronto's then-GM Wayne Embry (who cleared cap space by sending Jalen Rose to, you guessed it, New York) already know: You can always bank on an overmatched fellow GM -- usually working out of New York, Minnesota or Philadelphia -- to help make up for past missteps.

• Undersized Kings forward Kenny Thomas (he's undersized when they put him at center, too) made his rep as a strong scorer on the interior who can rebound. And though he's doing solid work on the glass (7.8 in 26.8 minutes a game), he's killing the team on offense. What happened to his touch? It's still there -- he's shooting 49 percent -- but he can't hold on to the bloody ball. According to Knickerblogger.net, 22.2 percent of the possessions he takes part in end up with a Thomas turnover, a putrid number for someone who is supposed to be a scorer. By comparison, the oft-maligned Eddy Curry turns it over "only" 17 percent of the time.

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