Outside of the convenient use of the “Metta World Peace” name for this headline (we just had to do it once), Turn On The Knicks will be referring to Ron Artest as Ron Artest. Moving on, it is starting to sound imminent that the Knicks will pull the trigger on signing Artest, who is meeting with team officials in Las Vegas this week. There is some chatter about him considering playing in China but most signs seem to point to an Artest/Knicks marriage relatively soon. This of course begs the question, is this even a good idea?
The short answer is yes. New York is short on options for adding talent at this point because of their salary cap situation and available market to them. Considering what they have left to spend, Artest is probably the best overall player they can add right now. It is never bad to stockpile talent, especially when you are in quote, unquote win now mode. The Knicks need another wing and more importantly need more defense.
Artest is coming off a solid season where he averaged 12.4 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.6 steals, shot a little over 40% from the field and a little over 34% from three. He is still a strong wing defender who will bring toughness, playoff experience and a little bit of insanity to the Knicks.
There are always valid questions about him being too much of a loose cannon both on and off the court but the Knicks are in a position where the risk could outweigh the reward. Would you rather pay somebody like Josh Childress or Anthony Tolliver the minimum or have Artest and Iman Shumpert to throw at Paul Pierce/Joe Johnson, Paul George/Danny Granger, LeBron/Wade?
When you are going to be playing Carmelo Anthony, JR Smith, Andrea Bargnani, and Amare Stoudemire rotation minutes, you need all the supplemental defense you can get your hands on. Artest provides very good value on the type of contract the Knicks are likely to get him on, which is a just touch above the veteran’s minimum.
If the Knicks bring Artest in and get Kenyon Martin back, you are looking at a pretty solid and deep top ten, particularly if rookie Tim Hardaway Jr develops into a reliable rotation piece, which he looks capable of (even though we are way, way, early in the game here). Yes, a backup point guard is still needed but that is problem to fix on another day. Right now, the Knicks would be wise to get Artest under contract.