It appears Sam's right.
That's an extra million of breathing room when it comes to keeping Beno Udrih, should Artest (or Mark Stevens, rather) actually pick up the option.
There's a problem with relying on imperfect information (I'm told Kenny Thomas' contract info is off as well) in deciding whether we like certain moves or not. I'm more guilty of it than anyone, allowing the salary cap stuff -- which we don't know for fact -- weigh so heavily in my basketball analysis.
But if Artest picks up the option, there's actually less posturing and guesstimating needed from us. Sure, questions about signing him beyond 2008-09 still persist, though made slightly easier from a salary standpoint as contracts begin to slide off the books and time allows Geoff Petrie more working room to make moves. If Artest picks up the option, we know exactly how much the Kings can offer Beno without tapping the luxury tax (the full midlevel, basically) and we can instead judge whether a) Artest and Kevin Martin are the right swing pair going forward, b) Artest is reformed (we have our suspicions about whether reformation is even possible, I imagine), and c) whether Beno is even worth the full midlevel.
Basically, one question is delayed. We can actually focus on basketball. That's music to my freaking ears, after the past week.