Already, the Los Angeles Lakers have inquired about Artest, according to a report in The Sacramento Bee, and there might not be a more logical destination. Exposed by the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals, the Lakers need to get tougher and better defensively. Swapping Artest for Lamar Odom, who wilted as much as any Laker during the Finals, would be an upgrade in both areas.
Phil Jackson won three titles with Dennis Rodman, so he's accustomed to dealing with non-conformists, as well as extraterrestrials, if one is to believe Jackson's nickname for Vladimir Radmanovic: My Favorite Martian. Artest, too, has been accused of being from another planet. As for any ego concerns, not even Artest is bold enough to challenge Kobe Bryant's authority in the locker room.
That's not to say Artest would be a perfect fit. At least one scout thinks the Lakers would be foolish to give up Odom, saying his length and versatility create too many matchup problems for opponents. Odom is the better rebounder and passer, and though Artest certainly is a more dependable three-point threat, he can be a ground-and-pound ball-stopper on offense.
The Lakers also would be wise to wait as long as possible to see how their young center, Andrew Bynum, recovers from knee surgery. If Bynum continues to labor, the Lakers may very well need Odom's size next to Pau Gasol. Still, Jackson and Bryant can be sure of one thing: Artest isn't going to curl up in the fetal position just because Kevin Garnett cursed at him...
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