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News, observations and reader questions about the Sacramento Kings and the NBA.

February 20, 2008
Artest staying...for now

(7:52 p.m.)
Pardon the prolonged absence there. Just got done chatting with Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie about a myriad of things. Among them, obviously, was how his day of potential dealings went.
His status report: "Might be time to turn the volume down," he said.
As in the volume of trade talk that has surrounded Ron Artest, and more specificially his situation as it pertains to Denver. There was talk from Petrie of a price of admission and how sometimes people just choose not to pay. The point, of course, was that Artest's price has not changed. If the Nuggets want him, they must give up Linas Kleiza in the deal.
It does not appear that the Kings have anything else of larger substance in the works, though I wouldn't be surprised if a role player is shipped out by tomorrow. All that being said, this is still a staring contest. If Denver blinks come morn, then the deal will get done.

(3:56 p.m.)
Let the staring contest begin.
The Kings and Denver are at a non-communicative standstill, but there may be some reason to believe the Nuggets are considering giving up Kleiza.
Not to simplify the matter, but I can safely say Denver has looked at possible acquisitions in this light from the beginning. Jason Kidd was the most talented guy available, and Ron Artest was the second. End of story.
And now that it doesn't appear as if Denver will land Memphis' Mike Miller, that could be leverage of sorts for the Kings. Remember, there's really no reason to give in now. Just wait for the other side to blink until the deadline draws even closer. Twenty hours and counting...

Quick sidenote: San Antonio is busy using Francisco Elson and Brent Barry to other ends. They landed Kurt Thomas.

Kleiza.jpg

The man himself

(2:49 p.m.)
Someone within the Spurs organization is steering folks astray, as it now seems as if that situation may not exist. It never made sense as it was, and wasn't anything close to a deal the Kings would consider. All is quiet at the moment, and my Denver source says if the Nuggets had relented on Linas Kleiza then the deal would be done.

(12:22 p.m.)
The Spurs may be nearing a deal for Artest, although it's also believed Denver may finally be willing to give up Linas Kleiza. Of course, my flight from Portland to Sacramento is at this very moment, so we'll see where things stand when I land.

(10:40 a.m.):
Add San Antonio to the list of teams that will try to steal Ron Artest.
I don't see Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie biting, but I'm told that the Spurs will (or maybe have) offer the expiring contracts of Francisco Elson and Brent Barry (combined $8.54 million) for Artest. A draft pick would likely be available, too, but this would seem to be yet another low-ball offer as the Kings see it. But if it did happen and Ron was united with the team he demolished in the playoffs two years ago? Oooweee. The rich would be filthy rich...

***

(8:24 a.m.)
Things change quickly when the trade deadline is fast approaching, but the consensus from this morning is that Ron Artest isn't going anywhere.
According to several league sources, the Kings had recent talks with Denver and Houston pertaining to the small forward. And for now, the discussions have left both teams leaning against making a move for Artest. The formula is the same in both scenarios, with the Kings looking for a combination of expiring contracts, draft picks and - insert snag here - young talent.
And while it's been well chronicled that the Nuggets are reluctant to give up third-year small forward Linas Kleiza, it appears the Rockets don't want to hand over their young talent either. Rookie point guard Aaron Brooks is a player the Kings wanted to draft and would love to trade for, but Houston is - for the moment - unwilling to include him on any deal. There was a call made to the Rockets weeks ago, and they only seem to have returned it in the last week. That's what led to this speculation on my part, but then the power of success came into play.
Houston has won 18 of its last 21 games, leading the Rockets to deduce that change just isn't necessary. The same goes for the Nuggets, who broke Boston's 16-game undefeated streak against Western Conference last night and have won seven of nine games.
For all the talk of where coach George Karl and vice president of basketball operations Mark Warkentien are on dealing for Artest (Warkentien for, Karl against), the final word from the Mile High City may come from owner Stan Kroenke. He was at the Pepsi Center last night, and is said to have walked away without any inclination to acquire Artest if it meant giving up Kleiza.
It should be noted that Warkentien, more than all the others, isn't averse to putting together a cast of characters dripping with controversy. This is the same guy who built the infamous "Jail Blazers" teams of the 1990s, and he came up alongside famed and equally-infamous UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian. It's the overlooked fact among those people who think it'd be insane to couple Artest with Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony. For now, though, Artest doesn't appear on his way toward a new situation of any kind. - Sam Amick



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