THE RON-AROUND by Peter Vecsey
January 18, 2005 --
DON'T believe a thing you've read or heard concerning the Knicks and Pacers conversing about a Ron Artest trade. Never happened and never will, not as long as Isiah Thomas, Artest's coach for three years at Indiana, is coordinating incoming for New York.
In fact, every trade report (Knicks, Heat and one or two others) that has surfaced re Artest is fictitious. The only legit offer Indiana has received for its suspended All-Star since he performed "handstands" at The Palace was from Memphis (rising free agent Bonzi Wells) and it was summarily rejected; Chicago native Michael Heisley found Tru Warier's competitiveness as a Bull irresistible and hasn't lost his attachment as the Grizzlies' owner.
Any day now Artest is expected to start practicing with a team he almost certainly won't represent between the lines again. Educated speculation affirms Pacers management will not leave the organization vulnerable by giving him another chance to subvert another season.
Still, the overriding feeling is Artest is a top ten player, or awfully close to it. And despite his disruptive behavior he'll be worth a lot more than Bonzi come summer.
In the interim, Artest is spending much of his forced down time sharing his innermost thoughts with others in an effort to repair long-lasting loose connections. Think what you want about him for his riotous role and other alarming incidents where he went off the deep end, but there's no denying he's trying to learn how to control his emotions.
I nearly added, "and better himself," but that notion would've been flawed. The reality is, Artest already is a better person than many of us, exceedingly generous with his time, concern and money with family, friends and especially kids. He may not always be manageable, responsible or coherent, but he's always looking after their best interests and is unswervingly loyal to those who've helped him.
When Artest negotiated a shoe deal last summer with LA Gear, one of his principal priorities was to take care of his high school teams with equipment. Shortly after the brawl the company voided his contract.
Naturally, LaSalle's kids got stiffed in the process — without so much as a warning, or a regret, or a reply to a inquiry from the school's head coach just as their season was about to get underway.
Did LA Gear rupture its commitment to the kids? Under the circumstances, I suppose not. The deal, however, was in place for months, so weren't they owed a little something?
Was LA Gear obligated to come across with sneakers and uniforms? No, I guess not, not legally, anyway; but how about ethically? It wouldn't have broken the company, I suspect, to fork over the goods.
Here's a company that immediately invalidated an agreement with a player based on high moral grounds yet didn't have the decency to do what's right by a bunch of kids. LA Gear wanted to protect its "good name" by separating itself from Artest. In my book, the exact opposite happened.
Memo to LA Gear: Artest's actions will cost him roughly $5.4 million this season, give or take a deal with a discourteous shoe company. Nonetheless, his two college and one high school scholarships for LaSalle students were not withdrawn.
Subject: Camp Cablevision's Gore-y Weekend
After a pair of last-second losses to the suddenly Compati-Bulls, it's clear where the Knicks' blame lies — Herman Edwards.
And to think, when Thomas proclaimed his team good for "42, 43 wins," certified skeptics figured he was low-ballin' to keep expectations down to a minimum and away from himself, his hand-picked coach and his overpaid (17-20, losers of three in a row and seven-of-eight) floor mats.
Turns out after the Martin Luther King Day meltdown, Thomas, too, must be dreaming.
Subject: Minny Math Lesson — Addition by Subtraction
Michael Olowokandi finally earned his Timberwolves keep by provoking Nene into a fist-fight, the way it was meant to be, mano-a-mano instead of mano-a-fanatico. Both received the same four-game sanctioned sentence and we all know who came out ahead on that score. The Crying Wolves, who hosted Toronto last night, have dutifully improved on this Kandi-free diet, winning that game in Denver and the next vs. the frontcourt-less Blazers.
This just in: So it shouldn't be a total loss, Latrell Sprewell petitioned David Stern to turn over Olowokandi's paychecks to his near starving family.
Subject: Those Hughes Keep Disappearing . . . first Howard, now Larry
Now we shall see if the Wizards can survive a second Bush administration without Larry (fractured right thumb) Hughes. He is expected to be out close to six weeks, a major blow to Washington, off to its best start (22-13 before last night's adventure in San Antonio) in 26 years. Hughes was putting up career numbers in just about all categories, the only player, in fact, averaging more than 20 points (21.2), five boards (6.1), five assists (5.3) and 2.5 steals (2.82).
This just in: An American institution takes place again the day after tomorrow in our nation's capital. Every four years, a president gets sworn in and every four minutes, Wes Unseld gets sworn at.