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Cuban: You want Ron Artest making decisions

3/31/2011

LOS ANGELES – There is legitimate concern about how the Mavericks match up with the Lakers’ starting lineup.

Just not from owner Mark Cuban.

Shawn Marion, the Mavs’ best wing defender, takes the challenge of guarding Kobe Bryant. Because of his size, Rodrigue Beaubois has to defend point guard Derek Fisher. That leaves Jason Kidd on Ron Artest, meaning the 38-year-old point guard has to deal with a three-inch and 50-pound disadvantage against the 6-foot-7, 260-pound small forward with the physique of a defensive end.

Cuban would love to see the Lakers try to exploit the Artest-Kidd mismatch.

“Anything that puts the ball in Ron Artest’s hands is always a good thing,” Cuban said. “And you can tell him that I’ll even take him out for ice cream. Of all the choices you have on that team, you want Ron Artest making the decisions in the triangle.’’

The ice cream comment was a reference to a sarcastic tweet from Artest before the Lakers’ March 12 win in Dallas, when Artest scored 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds. Artest tweeted that he thought Cuban, a frequent critic of his, would take him out of ice cream after the game.

Cuban has been launching verbal grenades at Artest since the colorful small forward arrived in L.A. Cuban reacted by saying the rest of the West contenders couldn’t have asked for a better player to join the Lakers, predicting that Artest would wreak havoc on the defending champions’ chemistry.

That didn’t turn out to be the case, as Artest played a key role in the Lakers defending their title, but Cuban’s opinion obviously hasn’t changed.