Thursday, January 26, 2006

[Kings] It's Official: Artest is Coming

The Self-acclaimed "True Warrior" is Coming to Town.

AP Report:

"We're glad this is over with," Pacers president Larry Bird said. "We wanted to be patient with this one because Ronnie is a heck of a player and someone's always going to take a chance on someone like that."


Artest apparently changed his mind about the Kings after meeting with Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh earlier Wednesday after again expressing interest in returning to Indiana.

At the meeting, Walsh said Artest never complained to him about going to Sacramento. Instead, Walsh explained that Sacramento may be a good place for Artest to get a fresh start.

"Ronnie didn't say he wouldn't go there, in fact he said the opposite was true," Walsh said. "He said he wanted go there and win games."


Now that Artest is gone, Bird hopes the Pacers can again focus on basketball.

He acknowledged the persistent trade rumors took a toll on an Indiana team expected to contend for an NBA title. Indiana was 10-6 with Artest, but had gone 11-14 since his trade demand. The Pacers were tied for sixth in the Eastern Conference standings entering Wednesday.

"It seemed like our team was going to the West Coast, stopping off at cities and our players were worried about being traded," Bird said. "Our time for excuses are over."


"It's a new chapter in Sacramento's basketball history and hopefully it'll be a successful one," co-owner Joe Maloof said. "He's a terrific athlete, we all know that. He's one of the top 15 or 20 players in the league, in our opinion anyway, and he brings it every night."


"I know he might put us over that hump that we need," guard Mike Bibby said. "The way he plays, he plays good defense, he can score too. Maybe that can pick up the intensity in everybody else."

And the Pacers brass seemed just as happy.

"I probably went too far to support Ronnie," Walsh said. "But he generated so much attention that he felt as long as he was here, whatever he did would get blown up. The more I thought about that, the more I thought it was absolutely true. ... I'm praying for him that he does do
that (change)."

From Indystar :

"We've done everything we could here to try to get him to feel like he's needed and wanted," team president Larry Bird said about Artest, "and it just didn't work out."


"We wish Ron the best at Sacramento," Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh said. "There's no doubt in our mind he'll have an immediate impact on their team. We'll miss him very much. We know this has been a long process for our fans, but we have a player we think our fans will enjoy watching."


Artest met with Walsh and Bird on Wednesday.

Artest told WTHR (Channel 13), The Star's news-gathering partner, that the meeting was emotional but "we both left on good terms," Artest said. "It was just business. It's all cool. I get criticized for everything I do. I'm used to it now."

Walsh said it was a good meeting and said Artest was willing to be traded. Walsh said the Pacers would have explored legal options if Artest refused to be traded.

"We just talked about the fact that there was a trade on the line, but apparently something happened," Walsh said. "We felt like it was a good trade for him and a good trade for the franchise and that was kind of the extent of the conversation."


"My way has always been to try to support players," Walsh said. "If anything, I've probably gone too far with Ronnie because I felt like he was going to learn how to do things. At that point, which I thought was true, that as long as he was here, anything he did would get blown up and affect his teammates and affect everybody.

"When I thought about it that night, it was absolutely true, it wasn't going to work here anymore. No matter how much support we gave him, it was just over. We had to move on. I feel like we did a failure in a sense. If anything, I think we went too long."


The Pacers were ready to send Artest to the Los Angeles Clippers for forward Corey Maggette two weeks ago. The Pacers decided against the trade because of uncertainties surrounding Maggette's foot.

Talks with the Clippers actually helped the Pacers because other teams realized what they were up against and started making better offers.

"I really felt we had to be as patient as possible and one day that call would come in," Bird said. "Donnie was getting a little nervous. I was, too. But the last week or so the trades got better. (The Maggette deal) made a lot of teams get involved."

From Geoff Petrie's Comments on the trade:

Regarding his conversation with Ron Artest:
“He came to the realization that he wanted to start playing. He has a great opportunity here. I talked to him twice today and he was asking about other players on the team and was looking forward to joining them and getting back to playing.”

On his relationship with Peja:
“I’m really proud of Peja actually. There’s a sense of loss here. He’s a great professional. He developed into a three-time All-Star here, and played on some of the best teams this franchise has ever had.”

Does Artest give the Kings a shot at the postseason this year?
“Well, we’ll find out. We’re not out of the playoff race. We are in a really tough spot right now. We need to win games and we have a lot of road games still in front of us where we’re going to have to win some games. We’ll see how quickly Ron can get acclimated and up to speed.”

Will the team handle Artest any differently now that he’s a King?
“Bill Russell once said you don’t handle people, you handle horses. We’re going to work with him and support him like every other player that’s ever worn a Kings uniform.”

From Sacbee:

Kings President Geoff Petrie said Wednesday he's bringing Indiana's Ron Artest to Sacramento to give his faltering team "a new identity . . . than what we've been seeing so far this year."


"This (trade) obviously got delayed for certain reasons, but everybody's in agreement about doing it and trying to do something to help the team and give it a new identity and a different look out there than what we've been seeing so far this year," Petrie said during a radio broadcast of the news conference.


In his afternoon press conference, Petrie said the trade was made to improve the Kings' standings. "We're doing it because we think we can improve the performance of the team now," he said.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

[Kings] Peja-Artest Swap Dead...or Not?

Well, things DID get interesting a funny way.

Read the latest announcement from Mark Stevens, the agent of Ron Artest, and promise you won't be mad enough to break the computer in front of you:

Artest and his agent. Mark Stevens, were expected to meet Wednesday morning in Indianapolis with team executives Larry Bird and Donnie Walsh with the hopes the trade can be revived.

"In the last month, Ron Artest has been vehemently portrayed in an unflattering manner in the media, specifically in the aftermath of requesting a trade, even after it was made clear that he only spoke out because he believed the Pacers were going to trade him to Sacramento, a place he did not want to go to," Stevens said in a statement to ESPN's Stephen A. Smith on Tuesday night. "Now it has become evident that this trade was not merely speculation but something that has been at least discussed for quite some time.

"Ron Artest did not want to be traded to Sacramento weeks ago, and he does not want to be traded to Sacramento now. Basketball is Ron Artest's passion. In order for Ron to fully demonstrate his natural skills and abilities, to the best of his abilities, he not only must be in an environment that is conducive to his growth an development as a player, he must also ensure that his family is happy and content as well. Ron does not believe that will be the case if he were in Sacramento. Period. However, as mentioned earlier, Ron is deeply committed to the sport of basketball and desperately misses playing the game he loves. If the trade is made he will play for his new team, regardless of how he may feel about it."

Stevens told ESPN's Greg Anthony that he thought Artest needed a stable situation with strong leadership, and that the uncertainty about both Kings coach Rick Adelman's future and the Kings' future in Sacramento indicated a lack of stability that would be uncomfortable for Artest.

Likewise, National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter told Anthony that Artest had not refused to report to Sacramento, although he had told Hunter of his reservations about the potential trade. Hunter expressed concern about reports that the Pacers might attempt to suspend Artest for playing a role in the Kings' rejection of the trade. Hunter told Anthony that Artest was not culpable for the possible dissolution of the deal because he had expressed that he would accept the trade.

Anyway, should the Kings' fans feel relieved since he did say he WILL play for Sacramento if the trade somehow gets down? (Take the Chris Webber's case as the comparison, who has said he will NOT even report to Sacramento after got traded by Washington, until long talks with his father.)

Latest Indystar report offers little we haven't known about, nonetheless is a comprehensive recap about the weird past 24 hours.

However this excerpt is curious:

Artest dismissed an ESPN report that he was to meet with Walsh this morning.
"Nobody has told me about that," he said.
Artest also denied an ESPN report he has bought a home in Los Angeles, although he said he has rented an apartment short term.
He added that he has not given thought recently to where he would like to play.
"Right now I'm a Pacer," he said. "I've only been watching the Pacers and Kobe Bryant."

Link to Whole Post

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

[Kings] Peja-Artest Swap Finally Coming True?

Has peja already played his last game wearing purple-&-white?

From Tuesday's Indystar:

Bird believes they won't have to wait much longer. He said the Pacers are talking with "five, maybe six" teams, all in the Western Conference. He doesn't expect more than two teams to be included in the deal, and hopes not to have to package.

"I can't say we're in love with all the deals, but they're getting better," Bird said. "Last week was a pretty good week. The offers improved. There's some teams that want no part of him, and others who say, 'This is the guy we need to get over the hump.'
"They know he can be a difference-maker. I have to agree with them."

Luxury tax considerations have complicated matters, as the Pacers don't want to take on too much additional salary in a trade.

"I'm a firm believer you have to be patient in this league," Bird said. "The teams that are patient in trades (have more success). We'd like to get this done, but we've got a job to do and we have to make sure our fans are happy with what we get. They're our paying customers and we're trying to do our best for them."

The bold part centainly fits the description of peja, who is an URFA after this season.

And latest update from ESPN :

"We're closer than we were," Indiana president of basketball operations Larry Bird said Tuesday. "To say we're going to do something today, well, that's not going to happen."

Artest's agent, Mark Stevens, said "a deal is imminent, almost as soon as possible."

Bird said the Pacers had been interested in Corey Maggette of the Los Angeles Clippers, but there was "no question" that Maggette's sprained left foot affected the process. Maggette averaged 21.7 points in 13 games before getting injured in early December.

The Timberwolves were among many teams that have inquired about Artest and were thought to be a prime candidate to be involved in a trade. But talks between Timberwolves vice president Kevin McHale and Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh have slowed of late.

Jermaine O'Neal, the Pacers' leading scorer, has said some players might be worried about getting traded along with Artest, and it might be affecting their play. The Pacers have lost four of their last five games, including Monday to the Atlanta Hawks, who have the NBA's worst record.

Bird dismissed that idea, saying there's always a chance a player can be traded.

"I don't believe that," Bird said. "How can they be affected? It's the same thing every year."

Bird said his players should not worry because he's trying for a one-for-one deal. He said the Pacers' recent tailspin has not pushed him to make a deal more quickly.

Once again, the bold part fall into the condition of our beloved sweet shooter. Maggette and peja have been mentioned most as the most possible trade target with Artest, and now since Maggette has basically been out of the circle...

And, of course, you just can't completely ignore the annoying Pete Vescey and New York Post:

I have it on excellent authority the Pacers and Kings are exceedingly close to swapping Ron Artest (three more years after this on his contract with a right to opt out after two) for Peja Stojakovic, who has the freedom to opt out after this season or play out the next.


According to three sources, it's strictly Sacramento's call; the Pacers are agreeable and ready to deal, and are waiting for the Kings to make up their mind.

Ironically, Peja, the man in the horizon, has just told Sacbee that he not only want to stay in Sacramento after this season, but want to finish his career here:

"That would be a good thing. I think every player that ends with the team he started with, that means something."

Even if it means turning down bigger offers and considering a "hometown" discount?

"I think money is not going to be a huge thing in my mind," he said. "It's what I think, what I feel like."


"That's what I mean," said Stojakovic, relating to Miller. "I look at Sacramento as my home, because I don't know anything better."

The only thing I know is, things definitely are getting interesting here. Stay tuned.

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