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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