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Ron Artest

Welcome to Houston, Ron Artest. How does the idea of being in a starting five that includes Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady strike you? From where I’m standing, it looks like you should be ecstatic because now that you’ve been acquired, your new team now has the makings of being one of the brighter spots in an all-ready brilliant Western Conference.

By sending Bobby Jackson, next year’s first-round draft pick and, in all likelihood, rookie Donte’ Green to the Sacramento Kings for Ron Artest, the Rockets have indeed gotten much better — on paper — but they’ve also put themselves in a position where getting out of the first round should be a requirement. No more “T-Mac can’t get win a playoff series” stuff. If it doesn’t happen after this upcoming season, it’s time to blow the Rockets up and start over, provided another major injury doesn’t occur.

Because of Green’s rookie contract status, the deal won’t be finalized until August 14.

Now, before everyone pencils the Rockets into the Western Conference Finals, here’s a question about Houston’s new and improved NBA team — who starts? Last year, the usual rotation was Yao, Scola or Hayes, Battier, McGrady and Alston. Does Artest become the sixth man or does Rick Adelman shake up the starting five? Further, does this move put the Rockets ahead of teams like the Lakers, Hornets, Jazz and Spurs (who, when all three are healthy, are still one of the best teams around)?

Don’t forget about Dallas, Portland and Phoenix either. Fortunately for Houston, the acquisition of Artest makes them, at the absolute worst, the eighth best team in the Western Conference.