The Lakers don’t believe he’ll leave, Lee kept barking. Surprise, surprise: Lee didn’t think the Lakers would tell him to get lost, sign Artest and leave Ariza to take the five-year, $33 million deal in Houston he could’ve had in L.A.
“I told Mitch that it was never about the money; it was about respect,” Lee told NBA.com.
Well, take your respect and pack your client’s bags for post-Yao lottery land in Houston. Respect? Yes, there are American soldiers and missionaries in faraway lands cheering for David Lee and this noble stand for the neglected and disenfranchised everywhere. It is about respect, and God knows a $33 million offer for Ariza’s eight points and four rebounds a game rates a disgraceful act.
No, this wasn’t about the money, nor his client’s needs. This was a failed power play, an embarrassment of the highest order. Looking back, Ariza will rue the day. He’s a good player, but he’ll never be a star elsewhere. He’ll just be another player on another team.