The Cavs could’ve had the player formerly known as Ron Artest.
The 2009-2010 Cavs will always have been a team of possibilities. That season is most notable due to the fact that Cleveland attempted to trade for Amar’e Stoudemire and depending on who you ask, the Suns either rejected a trade built around Zydrunas Ilgauskas and J.J. Hickson, or the Cavs refused to include Hickson in the trade. It’s a topic of much debate. Yet, before that ever happened, the Cavs had LeBron James out there trying to land Ron Artest (currently known as Metta Sandiford-Artest) as a free agent.
Artest was very excited over the prospect of joining the Cavs, who at the deadlined acquired Antwan Jamieson and not Stoudemire, to play alongside James, Mo Williams, and Shaquille O’Neal. Had Artest joined the team, that would’ve given them one heck of a starting lineup and may have even been good enough to knock off the Celtics, who fell to the Lakers in the NBA Finals, regardless if it was Stoudemire or Jamieson in the lineup.
Talking to Shannon Sharp on his Club Shay Shay podcast (via Lakers Daily), Artest revealed why he didn’t want to play with James.
"LeBron James hit me up one time when he was with the Cavs and I remember I was excited because LeBron hit me up. I’m a big fan, even though younger, I was a big fan. But before that, I didn’t want to play with Kobe [Bryant]—R.I.P. Kobe—I didn’t want to play with LeBron, I didn’t want to play with T-Mac (Tracy McGrady). I wanted to play against these guys. So when LeBron hit me up to come play for the team, I was like, ‘Um, I can’t come play. You know, because many reasons, I can’t come.’ … But when no teams wanted me, after that, I didn’t call back LeBron. So then the [Los Angeles] Lakers call, I said, ‘I gotta just go because I don’t know if I’m going to get a contract.’ But, it’s not in me to play with anyone."
That Cavs team would’ve been an all-time great team if things broke differently
A team with James, Stoudemire/Jameison, and Artest? Yikes, that’s a scary lineup to think about. Considering each player’s versatility, that’s a team that plays 2-4 or 3-5 and does well doing it. Whether it’s a regular-looking lineup or a small-ball lineup, those three would’ve been a force to be reckoned with.
More from Cleveland Cavaliers
- Kyle Kuzma is not a good fit for the Cleveland Cavaliers
- The Cleveland Cavaliers are rumored to be interested in trading Cedi Osman to get back in the 2023 NBA Draft
- Should the Cleveland Cavaliers go after Kristaps Porzingis?
- Would Hunter Tyson be a good get for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2023 NBA Draft?
- 3 of the most embarrassing moments in Cleveland Cavaliers history
It’s kinda sad that James wasn’t more dogged in his attempt to get Artest in 2009, as he would’ve fit perfectly on that Cavs team. He was a defensive stud and someone who could really make an impact without the ball in his hands. The Cavs had three-point shooting with Williams, Daniel Gipson, and Anthony Parker on the squad that year, as well as forces inside with O’Neal and Ilgauskas, and really just needed another big-time wing defender alongside James.
They really were just missing one piece to that puzzle.
Artest would go on to win an NBA Championship with the Lakers that year, so it wasn’t like he made the wrong move, but it will forever linger in the minds of Cavs’ fans everywhere; what if?