Los Angeles Lakers Trade Rumors: Is It Time To Finally Cut Ties With Ron Artest?

With the NBA trade deadline fast approaching and the Lakers still struggling to find any kind of rhythm, the rumor mill is suddenly beginning to heat up in Los Angeles.  

Adding fuel to the fire are some recent public statements made by GM Mitch Kupchak that he may have to consider a trade as a result of potential complacency amongst the players.

Naturally, when discussing potential trade options, the first name to come up was Ron Artest as a result of his season long struggles.  

Artest is averaging career lows in points (8.1), rebounds (3.0), assists (1.9), steals (1.4) and most importantly minutes (28:11).  He's playing five less minutes per game compared to last year while shooting just 40.6% from the field.  

Artest maintains he is still every bit as good on the defensive side of the ball, but he was recently exposed in front of a national television audience by Paul Pierce, who torched Artest and the Lakers for 32 points in a dominating 109-96 win at the Staples Center.

Despite rumors to the contrary, Artest has insisted that he does not want to be traded.  He even shook hands with Lakers owner Jerry Buss a few hours before their game against the Spurs last Thursday.  

"We always chill. Nothing special," Artest said, adding as an afterthought, "We've had lunch before."

This brings us to the question, is it time to finally cut ties with Ron Artest?  

I think the answer is simple...absolutely not.  

If there is on thing I've learned in my 24 years as a Lakers fan, it's to not waste any time or energy panicking.  If you don't panic when you are down three games to two versus the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals, you certainly don't panic in February over a few close losses.

Not only did Ron Artest help this team win their second straight NBA Championship last year, he scored 20 points to go along with...

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