Which team took the better risk -- Kings or Pacers?

Originally Published: January 24, 2006
By John Hollinger | ESPN Insider
Finally.

We almost don't even care who went to the Pacers. All we care about is that Ron Artest was finally traded, bringing months of idle speculation to a merciful end and allowing the Pacers, not to mention the rest of the league, to get on with their lives.

What they did get, however, was much less than we originally suspected. When Indiana first put Artest on the market, there was talk that the Pacers wanted a young big man and cap relief, or perhaps an established veteran along with a draft pick, for Artest. Basketballwise, their demands were very reasonable. Artest is one of the best two-way players in the game, is at his physical peak and has a very reasonable contract with 2½ years remaining. Teams should have been falling all over themselves to acquire him.

Instead, Artest's knack for self-immolation scared away all but a few suitors, and those that did step up modified their offers to adjust for the risk Artest presents. As a result, the Pacers had to settle for the Kings' Peja Stojakovic, a deadly shooter who lacks Artest's defensive pedigree, has been hurt much of the year and is a free agent after the season.

When a team makes a trade as risky as this one -- and make no mistake, Sacramento is rolling a gigantic, fuzzy set of dice here -- it's hard to make a definitive claim about who "won." That's especially true when we're dealing with two organizations that have made few miscues in the past decade. What we can do, however, is break it down and see which side has done more to put the odds in its favor. Let's take a look:

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