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12-16-2005, 07:01 PM
Pacers, Artest front and center in trade talks
Mike Kahn / FOXSports.com

http://msn.foxsports.com/nba/story/5173108

It would be redundant to call the latest off-the-court issue revolving around Ron Artest a news flash.

And maybe it's just a coincidence that it happened Thursday, the first day that the players acquired over the summer via trade and free agency can be traded.

Nonetheless, it fits quite well. Just four days after Artest shot off his mouth about his inability to fit into the Indiana Pacers' offense and wanting to be traded, he was fined $10,000 by the NBA per an element in the new collective bargaining agreement forbidding such public commentary.

"Public trade demands by players was a subject discussed at length during collective bargaining negotiations this summer," said Rick Buchanan, NBA senior vice president and general counsel in a statement. "The damage caused by these kinds of statements was commonly understood, as was the NBA's intention to hold players accountable for such statements going forward."

Having said that, the trading post is officially open, and deals are expected to be made on several fronts. It is highly unusual to have players like Artest, Chicago's Tim Thomas and New Jersey's Marc Jackson inactive at this point of the season. All three are expected to be dealt.

In Portland, forward Ruben Patterson suffered the same fate after an insubordination incident on the bench, and the Blazers have actively been trying to trade him for months. They are obviously showcasing him now with hopes of creating some action.

And then there were other acquisitions that haven't worked out very well. Jerome James in New York, Houston's Stromile Swift and Earl Watson in Denver could all be traded — although Watson's odd status as a third point guard has changed this week with Earl Boykins injuring his hamstring.

There are plenty more possible trades. So let's take a look at the teams most likely to make a deal between now and the Feb. 23 trade deadline.

Indiana Pacers: The Pacers have to trade Artest. They stood by him through all of his fits before last season, then when he instigated the brawl at the Palace of Auburn Hills that decimated the team and the season. The preference is to move him out West, with the most likely candidates for trade being the Sacramento Kings (Bonzi Wells or Peja Stojakovic), Los Angeles Lakers (Kwame Brown or Devean George and Andrew Bynum), Golden State Warriors (Mike Dunleavy-plus) and the Seattle SuperSonics (Vladimir Radmanovic-plus). The best possibility on the East Coast is Atlanta, where the Hawks could trade back Al Harrington to Indiana.

New York Knicks: It's been six weeks, and, as expected, coach Larry Brown has discovered he doesn't have a point guard. Stephon Marbury never has and never will fit his mold; Jerome James, as expected, has been a total bust — getting out of shape; and they've been trying to move the contracts of Penny Hardaway and Malik Rose. The only happiness can be found with rookies Channing Frye, David Lee and Nate Robinson, plus second-year forward Trevor Ariza. They may acquire Ruben Patterson from Portland.

New Jersey Nets: The Nets are the most disappointing team in the East. Marc Jackson has been a bust, but there's something else wrong, and something has got to give. Neither Jason Kidd, nor Vince Carter appear as healthy or effective as last season, but Richard Jefferson looks fine. Nenad Krstic still looks promising, but they have been reportedly already making overtures to Houston for Stromile Swift, whom they had targeted last summer only to be outbid by the Rockets. President Rod Thorn will not stand pat through the trade deadline.

Sacramento Kings: The Kings are the West Coast version of the Nets. They have all the parts in place — they just aren't working. They're trying to run the same Princeton offense that worked so well off of Vlade Divac and Chris Webber off the post, but those guys aren't there anymore. Bonzi Wells has been so-so, but the problem has been trying to build around Peja Stojakovic, who just hasn't been up to All-Star form the past couple of years. He's the guy they need to move, and even if it isn't for Artest. Al Harrington in Atlanta, soon to be a free agent, would actually be a better fit.

Denver Nuggets: Once Earl Boykins' hamstring heals (he's a remarkable physical specimen), they'll move Watson. How can a third-string point guard be worth a four-year, $29 million contract? And there are plenty of teams that need a tough on-the-ball defending point guard, namely the Knicks, who have been offering Malik Rose. The Nuggets will trade Voshon Lenard — even for a second round draft choice.

Seattle Supersonics: The Sonics need to move forward Vladimir Radmanovic. He isn't playing as many minutes for Bob Weiss as he did for Nate McMillan, and he'll be a free agent next summer. He'll fit on any number of teams, particularly Indiana and Chicago. Flip Murray is also available and could be moved to a team that needs a scorer.

Portland Trail Blazers: They're so young and lost; you have to wonder what kind of players coach Nate McMillan thought he had before training camp and how he feels about them now. Zach Randolph is problematic for any number of reasons, including recovery from micro-fracture surgery. Darius Miles is still awaiting opinions on whether or not to have knee surgery — but he hasn't played in a couple of weeks in the process.

Washington Wizards: The Wizards are a sleeper team to make a deal. They're playing far below the level they were last season and need to get more quality depth up front. Etan Thomas is a nice player, but he is erratic and can't be counted on to get the job done — same with Brendan Haywood. At some point they will decide whether it's Jared Jeffries or Jarvis Hayes they like the most and move the other. This could be the time, because the Wizards could move prominently into the playoff picture in a hurry if they had an Artest or any kind of impact power player.

Miami Heat: With Pat Riley now coaching the team, the moves he wants to make now are even more unfettered than when he was just president. Now he doesn't have to worry about how the coach will coordinate the players. With Michael Doleac and young Dorell Wright as bait, Riley wants another point guard (Watson?) and a solid player up front.

Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers still seem like the best prospect for Artest. The concept of Artest and Lamar Odom at forward, with Kobe Bryant on the wing makes Phil Jackson excited. Whether or not the Pacers can get excited about Kwame Brown or Devean George is a bigger question — because anyone can get excited about 7-foot-1 teenager Andrew Bynum, who is loaded with talent and a great attitude that Brown still has not reached.

Chicago Bulls: The Bulls badly need some power players and maybe a better small forward than Luol Deng. The key could be if and when they move Tim Thomas — maybe they can find a team that will take him just for the salary cap relief in the summer. But what players will they get? This is a huge test for general manager John Paxson, who's trying to figure out what went wrong beyond the dealing of Eddy Curry.

Regardless of who is thinking what — and Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh claims he's already heard from more than 20 other general managers regarding Artest, he's the kind of player who could help a very good team take the next step.

But teams are just asking for trouble with Artest as he could stunt the growth of an average squad or worse.

Veteran NBA writer Mike Kahn is a frequent FOXSports.com contributor.

Kegboy
12-16-2005, 09:09 PM
anyone can get excited about 7-foot-1 teenager Andrew Bynum, who is loaded with talent and a great attitude that Brown still has not reached.

:nod: