Interesting that both Denver area newspapers are reporting the same thing. They must have the same source. That adds credibility to it
Source: Denver major player in Artest race
By Marc J. Spears
Denver Post Staff Writer
Oakland, Calif. - The Nuggets are now major players in the Ron Artest sweepstakes, according to an NBA source Monday.
The Indiana Pacers are expected to deal the controversial Artest, a 2004 NBA all-star, in the near future. The potential Artest deal likely would include numerous teams for financial reasons. If the likely multiteam deal is consummated involving the Nuggets, expect injured forward-center Nene to be included.
"We're just waiting to hear from (Pacers CEO) Donnie (Walsh) on something," Artest's agent, Mark Stevens, said via telephone Monday.
Stevens recently predicted Artest would be dealt after the holidays and has been talking to Walsh regularly. With Christmas now past, the Pacers have intensified their hopes of trading Artest. He recently asked to be traded and then recanted the statements, but the Pacers still plan on moving him.
The Eastern Conference Pacers also seem intrigued about moving Artest to the Western Conference. Rumored interested West teams include Denver, the Los Angeles Clippers and Lakers, Golden State and Minnesota. The Pacers reportedly also could be interested in adding a player who is in the final year of his contract to cut salary. Nene and Nuggets guard Voshon Lenard, who has asked for a trade, are in the final years of their contracts.
"Anytime you deal a player, you would like him to go out of the conference," Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird told The Indianapolis Star on Monday. "We're looking at the West, but if it's the East, that's how it's going to be.
"Whether we get a draft choice or a player, we're going to make sure it's the right deal. We've done enough to back Ronnie. We're in a position where we have to protect the franchise now."
Artest was suspended 73 games by the NBA for his involvement in a fight with fans last season and has a history of drama. The 2004 NBA defensive player of the year is averaging 19.4 points and 4.9 rebounds this season, but has been suspended indefinitely by the Pacers and hasn't played since Dec. 6 versus Dallas.
Nuggets guard Earl Watson's name also has been mentioned in trade rumors with Indiana, Atlanta and Seattle. But Denver general manager Kiki Vandeweghe said Sunday that of late he has been very impressed by Watson, who entered Monday's game against Golden State scoring 10-plus points in six straight games.
"We didn't sign anybody to trade them," Vandeweghe said. "We signed them because they're good players. I think Watson's definitely proved himself there."
Golden State assistant John MacLeod coached against the Nuggets for the first time Monday since leaving the franchise in 2004. MacLeod was an assistant with the Nuggets from 2002-04 under then-coach Jeff Bzdelik.
"I'm glad to be coaching again," said MacLeod, who had 707 wins in 18 seasons as an NBA head coach. "When it's your passion, it's fun to get back. This is a good, young team with a lot of energy. It's a good organization top to bottom. We've got good young players to work with, so the key is to nudge them in the direction of the playoffs if we can."
Marc J. Spears can be reached at 303-820-5449 or firstname.lastname@example.org