A lot of people here want Ron Artest traded. For some of them, yesterday would be too soon. For some of them, what we get back in return is of little consequence.
While I would like to see Artest on the opening-day roster and see what this team as presently constructed can do, I am not naive enough to think there's no way Artest will be dealt before then.
In my opinion, a lot of energy has been expended here with Artest for garbage, play the kids, let's go into full-on rebuild mode thinking. While anything is possible, I think it's pretty clear that is not Geoff Petrie's general method of operation.
As a counterpoint, the Bibby trade was essentially that - a proven player for Shelden Williams, a draft pick and three guys who are no longer in the picture. It's worth noting, however, that the Kings had Beno Udrih in the picture and there was a general feeling that he was as good as Bibby overall, certainly more of pure point guard and definitely younger and cheaper.
The Webber trade was also that - a declining vet for three role players. I won't say much more, except to note it is at least possible Petrie will eventually take less than I think in an Artest trade.
Some have argued Salmons and Garcia are as good as Artest, or that there wouldn't be much of a dropoff, or that if we get someone who is better at the 4 then the tradeoff between a better 4 and a "slightly" worse 3 (aka Artest for Odom) would balance things out. Naturally, such musings tend to forget about the drafting of Jason Thompson and the still unknown development of Shelden Williams.
I think the most reasonable assessments leading to the likeliness of Artest being dealt comes from those who feel Petrie will deal Artest if he can get a star back. In other words, Petrie is open to star-for-star trades.
I think most, even those who want Artest dealt, concede he is one of the top two players on the team. So what we have going on are some chess matches.
Opposing teams are lowballing the Kings and often offering garbage, while Petrie is scouring their roster and saying, "Give me one of your top 2-3 players. Plus, give me a draft pick or a promising player. And, oh yeah, did I mention that you taking Kenny Thomas off my hands HAS to be part of the equation?"
It's all likely to add up to nothing soon, unless the other teams blink or REALLY want Artest.
Rather than look to trade Artest for a 4, I think the better idea is to trade him for another star 3. I also think getting a strong combo guard who can back up both Udrih and Martin as a sixth man - someone like Jason Terry or Barbosa, just to throw out a couple of names - would help the Kings. That may not happen in an Artest trade, but I think Petrie is spying that opportunity.
I think Garcia-Salmons, while both fairly versatile players who can help the Kings in several ways, are both better suited to backing up the 3 hole. One of them might need to be dealt. So maybe you have a potential deal somewhere down the road where Petrie packages some spare parts like Salmons, Williams, Douby, Moore (maybe even Miller) and comes up with a solid combo guard.
I am also not sold on our future at the center position. Miller is a solid mid-level center, and a nice high-post player passer with great passing skills, but he's probably on his way out. Hawes also is more of an outside shooting type who is not really well-suited for mixing it up with the big boys down low or defending monsters, although it's certainly too early to write him off.
Thompson might end up being the center-power forward type, and maybe we end up signing or trading for a decent 4 at some point to team up with him. I think it's too much to expect Williams to develop into much more than a decent backup.