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Ron Artest signs with Los Angeles Lakers; Trevor Ariza verbally commits to Houston Rockets

Looks like the Rockets are going to start free agency with a couple of whiffs.  First, Marcin Gortat signs with a team in our own division, and then we fail to re-sign Ron Artest, who has chosen to stay in the Western Conference.  While neither move was going to be a shoe-in, it would have been nice to see us nail down one of the players.  Now we'll have to look elsewhere.   Who wants to start up the Birdman-to-Houston e-mail address?

However, to be honest, I'm not so sure that letting Artest go was a bad thing.  If Yao Ming were to miss much of next season (which is a distinct possibility), it would be the Ron-Ron Show, starring Ball-Hoginess, Bad Shot Selection, and Angry Postgame Tweets.  I wouldn't be a fan.  Why put up with Artest for another year when the chances of winning a championship would be slim to none?  Why pay him when we can save the money for later?  

That's how devastating Yao's injury is.  It not only cost us our best remaining wing player; it made the loss of Ron Artest somewhat necessary.

Now that Artest is gone, our chances of winning 40 games, much less 50 games, are looking dim.  We'll be without our two remaining stars for at least the first twenty games of the season, and that's the best case scenario, pending a miracle recovery from Yao.  At worst, we lose Yao for the season, and McGrady doesn't come back for 30-35 games, leaving, as of today, Aaron Brooks and Luis Scola as our go-to scorers.

As everyone in the West is improving, the Rockets are getting worse.

So what's the plan?  Do we accept a bad season in 2009-2010 in order to draft high and spend freely next summer?  What's it going to be?

Update: Trevor Ariza has verbally committed to the Houston Rockets.  Check it out here.  In  

Update 2: Marc Spears of the Boston Globe is reporting that Ariza will sign a 5-year, 33 million dollar deal.  Yikes.