Yes, this is really me, and yes, I'm completely sober.
The key question that has haunted the Pacers and its fans the past few seasons has remained the same. Would the Pacers team be better off without Artest, without the distractions, without the drama, and without his play that often strays from team ball. We all know the Pacers cannot get fair value for Ron, there is no use discussing that. Pacers likely will be able to get a role player for Ron, maybe a role-playing big guy. But maybe that is all they need now. So the questions haven't really changed, but the Pacers team situation has changed.
Things have changed, new players have been brought in and the Pacers drafted a rookie who seems like he'll be the real thing. Granger in another season or two will be good enough to man the small forward position and good enough to help the Pacers win a championship.
Saras has also been brought in to bolster the backcourt. Bender appears ready to contribute. The truth is the Pacers are loaded at the point guard, shooting guard and small forward positions. Jax can slide over and play the small forward, which would allow Fred, Saras and AJ to get more time. So maybe the Pacers would be better of trading Ron for a big guy (non-all-star for sure, but someone who can help us there).
I've argued for two seasons that the Pacers could not win a championship without Artest, and I've also argued that if the Pacers did trade Ronnie the Pacers would have to make some other significant changes in order to get back up to championship level. But does that argument still hold ? If Granger is as good as it appears, he needs to play 25 plus minutes per game. (sometimes rookies are too good to keep on the bench) So maybe the Pacers would not have to make other significant changes, so maybe if the Pacers make a smart trade of Artest the Pacers as they are currently constructed (minus Artest) can win a championship.
If the Pacers can trade Artest (yes my keyboard is about to explode) for a role playing big guy - How good would they be. The team would be more stable, so on and so forth, you know all the arguments in favor of trading Ronnie. You also know all the arguments in favor of keeping Ronnie.
Of course the logical thing to suggest is why not wait (to trade Artest) maybe until February or next summer, let Ron play this season in a Pacers uniform, hopefully his trade value will be a little higher in 10 months and next season Granger will be better and ready to be the starting small forward. Sounds like a logical plan, but maybe Carlisle is sick of dealing with Ron, maybe his teammates are just sick of Ronnie's act.
We all have to realize how unusual it is for Rick to call players out in the media. Maybe Ron's play during training camp has not been team oriented. Maybe Pacers management and coaching staff now realizes that they are finally ready to move on without Ron and that the team has enough other good players to be better without him. Maybe playing almost a full season without Artest proved to the players, coaches and management that the team runs much more smoothly without Ron's antics.
In addition to all this, I'm very concerned about Jeff Foster's health right now, he does not seem to be healing, shouldn't he be recovered by from his second hip surgery. I suspect that Foster will be injured for much of the season or at best he won't be 100% all season long. We all know Pollard is only a spot player at this point in his career due to his back, if he has to play 10-15 minutes per game he'll need a month off by the time Thanksgiving comes around. And I don't think David Harrison is ready to be the Pacers center this season. So the Pacers need help at the center position.
What type of center could the Pacers get for Ron ? Certainly not an allstar. I'm thinking more in the Jerome James or Adonal Foyle level of center. Someone who could help us with the Heat or the Pistons in the playoffs. Someone who can play 25 minutes per game at the center position. NBA history is filled with teams that have traded away a very good player because they have a rookie who is ready to fill the void.
Some of you are probably in shock; some of you probably think I'm being sarcastic. Well I'm not. What I'm doing is trying to take all my emotions out of it. Keep in mind I have not seen Ron play basketball in about 11 months, and I know once I do see him again all logic will go out the window, I'll realize how much I love him, and how much we need him, but right now I'm trying to look at the Pacers in a cold sober sort of way.