It just gets crazier, doesn't it?
First Ron Artest goes to the media to demand a trade, now he goes back to the media to say "Wait, I didn't mean it!" Oh well. Too late now. Jermaine O'Neal has already stated that his business relationship with Artest is over, and unless the Pacers want to trade their All-Star center/forward (who, I may add, piles up community accolades as well as triple-doubles) instead, their path is chosen. Artest made his bed—now all he has to do is lie down.
If this was simply a matter of talent, it would be a more difficult decision. Jermaine's a great guy, but Artest is probably the better player. He can score from inside and out, and can lock down everyone from point guards to power forwards. It's the fact that he's insane—and I'm starting to believe that more as an actual diagnosis rather than just a throwaway descriptive—that will make him an ex-Pacer as soon as Donnie Walsh gets an offer he can live with.
Magid Johnson said on TNT that Artest needs to be careful, that this will be his last chance if he doesn't watch himself. I don't buy that. Artest is too young and too talented to go the route of guys like J.R. Rider and Glenn Robinson. But I do think he'll be out of the League by 30 if he doesn't get help for his readily apparent problems. Maybe there's concern that what makes him so bad off the court is what makes him so good on it—that if he seeks help, he might lose the ferocity and focus that makes him the best defender in the NBA. Maybe that's even what people are telling him. You know what? At this point, it doesn't matter. The bad is already outweighing the good.
I guess the worst part of all of this is that his 70-plus game suspension last year didn't change anything. Even after that, he has managed to exhibit the worst kind of judgement, and he may have again torpedoed a promising Pacers season before the New Year. Wherever Ron winds up, let's hope he learns something this time.