Commentary

Lakers subbing in Artest for Ariza

Updated: July 3, 2009, 12:34 AM ET
By John Hollinger | ESPN.com
Ron Artest and Trevor ArizaNoah Graham/NBAE via Getty ImagesRon Artest's 3-point shooting helps make him an upgrade over Trevor Ariza.
I can't remember the last time I saw a de facto trade in free agency, but today it took only a couple hours for one to happen.

This afternoon on the West Coast former Rocket Ron Artest agreed to a deal to join the Lakers, and then later this evening came the news that former Laker Trevor Ariza had agreed to join the Rockets. The two players play the same position (small forward) and signed for similar money (the full mid-level exception), so it basically comes down to two teams' differing needs and what those players can provide.

From L.A.'s side, they're plugging Artest into Ariza's role at small forward as a floor spacer, transition finisher and occasional inbound-pass stealer. In terms of stats, this works. At small forward, L.A. mostly needs a floor spacer, and as far as floor-spacing ability goes, Artest is superior to Ariza -- he shot 39.9 percent on 3s last season, Ariza 31.9 percent.

Ariza shot much better in the postseason, but he's at just 29.9 percent for his career. So although it's possible he made a lasting improvement late last season, it's at least as likely that he was just having a good month.