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Old 07-29-2008, 08:16 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Ron Artest traded to Rockets

In what had been a quiet offseason, the Rockets are about to make a lot of noise.

In a stunning move designed to push the Rockets from solid playoff team toward legitimate NBA contenders, the Rockets reached agreement Tuesday with the Sacramento Kings to acquire gifted but controversial forward Ron Artest, according to an NBA executive with knowledge of the deal.

The Rockets will give up guard Bobby Jackson, a No. 1 draft pick next season and another player that the individual with knowledge of the trade could not name. Rockets general manager Daryl Morey could not be immediately reached for comment.

Because of contract considerations, the trade will not be announced until Aug. 14, though that would indicate the deal could include Rockets’ first round draft pick Donte’ Greene. Greene is not permitted to be traded until then, one month from when he signed with the Rockets.

There could also be other players involved to make the money match but none that the Rockets would plan to keep. The Rockets will also send the Kings cash in excess of $1 million.

Artest, 28, is considered one of the NBA’s most unpredictable characters and was the central figure in a 2004-05 brawl with fans in Auburn Hills, Mich. He is also considered among the league’s toughest lock-down defenders and sometimes, an unstoppable offensive force.

The 39 points he scored against the Rockets in 2006-07 season are his career high.

A 6-7, 248 pound forward, he had publicly lamented his decision last month not to opt out of the last season of his contract to become a free agent, renewing the Kings’ efforts to move him.

Artest played 40 games for Rockets coach Rick Adelman after he was traded by the Indiana Pacers to the Kings in the 2005-06 season, averaging 16.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and a career-high 4.2 assists. He was also a first-team NBA All-Defensive team selection. He offered to donate his salary if the Kings were willing to retain Adelman after that season.

In nine NBA seasons out of St. John’s, where he was a third-team All-American, Artest has averaged 16 points and 5.1 rebounds. He was the 2003-04 NBA Defensive Player of the Year. He averaged 20.5 points per game last season.

Artest, however, has been unable to stay clear from trouble. He was arrested in March 2007 and charged with domestic abuse and eventually sentenced to 20 days in jail and community service. That sentence was reduced to 10 days in a work release program. He had also been charged with animal neglect, though charges were not filed and Artest has since worked with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals on several campaigns.

In addition to his 73-game suspension after going into the stands in the Nov. 19, 2004 brawl (the longest suspension in NBA history other than for drug policy violations or gambling), he has been suspended for destroying a television camera in New York, for an altercation with then Heat coach Pat Riley in Miami and for numerous flagrant fouls.

Drafted by the Chicago Bulls in 1999, he was traded in 2002 to the Pacers, having some of his best seasons, including his one All Star season in 2003-04. Prior to the fight in 2004, he was suspended for two games for asking for a month off to promote an R&B album by a group on his production label.

After his return to the Pacers the season after the fight, he asked for a trade and was placed on the inactive roster.

Though Artest has been best used as a small forward, Rockets forward Shane Battier is also considered among the league’s best players at defending small forwards and shooting guards. But because Artest can defend players from small guards to power forwards, the Rockets could finish games with Artest and Battier on the court together, either with Tracy McGrady sliding over to point guard or with Artest matching up with power forwards.

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