The Ron-Artest-for-Corey-Maggette rumors are not going to go away until the trade happens or one of the two is shipped to a different city. Like last year's Artest-Maggette drama, and the years-long idea of Artest-for-Peja, it just seems to work.
Not many very-good players in the NBA make $7-9 million. Most make absurd money ($12+ million) or small amounts due to rookie contract restrictions. Last season, there were only three comparable players at the $7-9 million range - Maggette, Peja, and Artest.
Maggette is a two-time 20-point scorer, a shooter on par with Mike Bibby over his career. (Maggette has shot .447/.326/.820 in his seven full seasons, and Bibby has shot .446/.373/.803 - both on about 15 FGAs per 40 minutes.) The apparent difference? Maggette knows his strengths, and has limited his three-ball attempts to 18 percent of all his shots. (By comparison, 25 percent of Bibby's shots come on threes, and Artest takes 24 percent of his shots from long-range, despite being a career .314 three-ball shooter.)
The knock on Maggette is two-fold - he's a lackluster defender, and his health has been a concern as he missed 50 games last season and has played 70+ games only twice in seven seasons. (He's only missed two of 26 games this season.)
The problem with the health issue is that Maggette relies on his athleticism to get shots off - much like Kevin Martin. Only half of Maggette's inside shots are assisted this season, which says dude can get to the rim on his own. He draws a ton of fouls, as well, ranking third in the entire league in made free throws per shot attempt (the increasingly predominant foul-drawing metric - more or less, it combines foul-shooting ability and foul-drawing ability). (Martin is 12th this season, and he was also high on the list last year.)
What's this tell me? It says Maggette hasn't lost his explosiveness. Sadly, I don't get to watch much Clippers Basketball - just saw the Kings game (when Maggs couldn't buy a bucket) and parts of two national games (also not standout performances). But at least anecdotally, Maggette isn't suffering seriously from his back problems this year. That is mega-important in considering a trade for him.
Maggette makes $7 million this season and $7.8 million next year. He has a player option for 2009 ($8.4 million), but it's impossible to know whether he'll be in a position to take it or not. Artest, interestingly enough, has a nearly identical deal (making $140,000 more this season). The two could be traded straight up, or a cheap throw-in (Quinton Ross, Francisco Garcia, Paul Davis, Quincy Douby) could be added either way.
Both teams are desparate to make a move, though I'd assume Elgin Baylor is more desparate to move Maggette than Geoff Petrie is to move Artest. (That's an iffy assumption, though - if Artest hears trade rumors, which he now no doubt has - he's a bundle of dynamite waiting for a simple spark. If that spark ignites that wick, he's damn near untradeable.)
Can the Kings survive the loss of Artest's world-renowned defense? Well, they are the #18 defense in the league. That's below average. If Artest can't make them a good defense, they are not meant to be a defensive team. Maggette is substantially better on offense and isn't likely to refuse to speak to his teammates for four days. That's a couple of big plusses, especially when you assume the Kings defense won't fall terribly lower than its current standing (since the bottom isn't far off).
Right now, I'd be happy with Maggette-for-Artest straight up. Throw in the aforementioned Ross or Davis, or first-round draft pick, and I'm giddy. If someone like Garcia or Douby is included going the other way without a Clippers cheapie coming back, I'm a bit less enthused. I think the Kings should be trying to stockpile young chips, something that hasn't been done here in Petrie's term (until this year, at least). And keeping this year's first-rounder is pretty key, it would seem.
Bottom line: This team needs to divorce itself from Artest before dissolution is eliminated as an option. That could be soon. Artest is on the verge of becoming a season-wrecker (ask Indy) and the Kings won't be able to recover from that. If the Kings get something with value back, hey, that's a pretty good deal. Right?