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Mark Cuban still thinks Ron Artest carries implosion potential

October 30, 2009 |  7:26 pm
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban recently perked ears by expressing thankfulness that Ron Artest was now in purple and gold.  The rationale:  The Lakers just inherited a powder keg waiting to blow up their title defending shot:

         "I tell you what, now that they've got Ron Artest, I couldn't think of anything better," Cuban told the radio station.  If you would have said, what one player -- and I'll get killed over this -- what one player would you like to see on the Lakers? Ron Artest.  Could you imagine? Ron Artest has got the ball, and Kobe's standing there, 'Throw me the ball.' Thank you, Ron Artest."

Naturally, Ron Ron was asked about these words before the game and he was mostly amused.  He likes Cuban and thinks he's entertaining (if one that perhaps puts undue pressure on his players by being so front and center), but mostly, he was curious about where the better fit would be.  "I want you to ask him what team best fits me," said Artest with a grin.

Ask and ye shall receive.

As few of us later caught up with Cuban and asked which team he thought was in fact tailor made for Artest.  No specifics were named- "I don't know the culture of every team"- but he stood by his original statement.  Cuban thinks the threat of implosion remains, reminding us that Artest was once a bad teammate by his own admission, and sometimes spots remain unchanged.  "There's always a possibility, if history repeats itself." 

Mind you, Cuban respects Artest as a player.  "Amazing talent."  But that volatility can't be ignored, in the owner's eyes.  I asked Cuban if he would ever take a chance on a player with Artest's past.  "At a minimum contract," nodded Cuban, using Shawne Williams ("put out to pasture," as Cuban phrased it) an example.  They knew Williams came with baggage, so they're sequestering him from the team at a relatively cheap price.  Granted, the comparison doesn't entirely work, in that Artest is considerably more talented than Williams, whose on-court production/off the court issues was so out of whack that it arguably wasn't even worth taking a chance on him in the first place.  But I understand what Cuban meant, conceptually.

Of course, if Ron does some damage tonight, Cuban might be wishing Artest arrived in L.A. as a mid-season pickup.  But we shall see.