Artest to Houston?

Wow, didn’t see that one coming. The deal won’t be consummated until Aug. 14 –because it includes Houston rookie Donte Green who signed on July 14 and must stay on the roster for a month –but everything is in place, according the the Houston Chronicle

Here’s my read of the situation, as far as it pertains to the Lakers. Whenever you saw a story about the Lakers being interested in Artest, it almost always originated from the Sacramento papers. Which makes sense, because those proposed deals (Lamar Odom for Artest and Kenny Thomas) would definitely have given more to the Kings than the Lakers.

The Kings would’ve rid themselves of Artest’s baggage, Thomas’ bloated contract and picked up a solid player in Odom who has a sizable expiring contract: magic words in the NBA these days. The Lakers would’ve gotten Artest (who brings the defensive presence they desperately need) a big body in Thomas, but lost one of their best playmakers, added a bad contract that would still be on the books for the all-important summer of 2009 (when they might have to re-up with Kobe Bryant on a max contract extension).

The other key factor is that the Lakers really, really want to see what Odom can do alongside Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. Whether moving him to his more natural small forward position, or even using him as a point forward, would allow him to excel and be more consistent.

Anyway, you get the point. All those Artest to LA rumors you kept hearing about were not going to fly. At least not as currently constructed, and not during the offseason. One league source I spoke with said the talks could be more viable during the season, if the Odom-Gasol-Bynum experiment wasn’t working out.

It’s all a moot point now. Or it will be on August 14, as long as the deal holds up.