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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