AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake The Lakers are aching for defensive help. Recent torchings by Gary Payton and Gilbert Arenas revealed the purple-and gold’s inability to stop dribble penetration. Pairing Artest with Kobe, himself a two-time first team All-NBA defender, would give the Lakers two super stoppers and a huge dose of toughness to boot. The risk? It’s true that Artest has behaved like Terrell Owens in size 16 sneaks. He’s been suspended more times than a bungee addict. But Rasheed Wallace, Dennis Rodman, and Lattrell Sprewell displayed thuggish behavior too, yet became good citizens in the right environment. And let’s face it, the Lakers are a .500 team. Acquiring Artest won’t damage the chemistry of a contender. That makes trading for him less risky. If he implodes again, he’s gone. The Lakers end up in the draft lottery and under the salary cap. But a content Artest would put the Lakers one solid big man away from being truly dangerous in a weakened Western Conference. That makes his baggage and the risk worth taking on. Risk. It’s the name of the game for NBA general managers. Trades, drafts, and free agent decisions determine the direction of their franchises. But when GMs traffic in troubled souls, the stakes jump. Hence the controversy over whether the Lakers should try to trade for The League’s most visible delinquent, Ron Artest. But the downside to acquiring the St. John’s grad pales in comparison to the game and grit that he would bring to Staples Center. Let’s start with an assumption: Getting Artest will cost the Lakers Lamar Odom. The former Clipper is a rare breed of power forward with an accurate three-point shot and the ability to take opponents off the dribble. But supporters and experts alike are becoming uneasy about Odom’s ability to complement Kobe Bryant. And fans are disappointed by Lamar’s inability to sink key shots near the end of close games. Artest, on the other hand, has always sublimated his offensive game. While he did average 18 points per game in his last full season, it’s Artests’s defense that makes him special he was the 2003-04 NBA Defensive Player of the year. He led the league in steals. At 6’7, 260, he can shut down cat-quick point guards and behemoth power forwards alike. No wonder his teammates call him Pacman and why Phil Jackson calls him one of the league’s most valuable players. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!