Ron Artest may not have been the best player for the Rockets against the Lakers, but his toughness and competitiveness proved to be contagious.
Now, the Rockets must decide if his efforts late in the season warrant a new contract next season.
Artest, an unrestricted free agent this summer, has said publicly he wants to stay with Rockets.
What he hasn’t said is how much money he wants.
He likely will try to get a long-term deal worth between 9 to 12 million per year, if not more.
With next year’s amazing class looming, it isn’t likely he will get what he is looking for.
It seems like Artest has been in the NBA forever, but he is only 29. He has battled injuries throughout his career, making him a risky signing.
And then, of course, there is all the other stuff he brings; the bipolar attitude, lack of effort at times, and general tendency to bring negative attention to his team.
He seems to be a bit more mature, but that could change at any moment.
But Rockets GM Darryl Morley’s biggest concern might be Artest’s declining production.
His all-around game, once one of his greatest strengths, continued to decline last season. His habit for taking bad shots, including tons of 3-pointers, was very noticeable against the Lakers and even late in the season when he played well.
Is 17 ppg and 40 percent field goal shooting worth 9 to million?
With questions surrounding T-Mac and Yao, Morley would be wise to try to keep Artest – for a reasonable price.
It may take some time, but I expect him to re-sign with the Rockets.