var yuipath = 'clientscript/yui';
var yuicombopath = '';
var remoteyui = false;
else // Load Rest of YUI remotely (where possible)
var yuipath = 'http://yui.yahooapis.com/2.9.0/build';
var yuicombopath = 'http://yui.yahooapis.com/combo';
var remoteyui = true;
If this has already been posted, my bad.
ESPN.com - NBA - Ford: A Peja for Artest swap?
By Chad Ford
One team is 4-1 and a contender for the Eastern Conference throne. The other is 1-4, and sinking fast in the wild, wild West. Each has an All-Star small forward who has been an integral part of the team's success in the recent past – now it's time to trade them for each other. Without delay, Kings GM Geoff Petrie and Pacers GM Larry Bird should pick up the
phone, call each other and offer to rekindle talks of a Peja Stojakovic for Ron Artest trade.
In Sacramento, Stojakovic's heart is not in it. After the team let Vlade Divac go this summer and turned the leadership of the team over to Chris Webber, Stojakovic wanted to bolt. Through his agent, David Bauman, he asked to be traded, claiming he no longer
felt comfortable on the team. Through a month of training camp and the first two weeks of the season, it has shown. The trade request rankled the Kings, who got in several shouting matches with Bauman over the course of the summer. Stojakovic's teammates weren't pleased either. But it has had an even bigger effect on Peja. League sources told Insider that Stojakovic has been aloof with teammates and a recluse in both the locker room and on the team plane. Even more troubling, Stojakovic has changed his legendary practice habits. That might explain why the best shooter in the NBA is shooting a troubling 19-percent from 3.
Peja Stojakovic, left, was the NBA's second-leading scorer last season, veraging 24.2 points per game.Sources claim that for years Stojakovic spent an extra two hours in the gym, even on game night, practicing his shot. NBA coaches who've worked with Stojakovic through the years have used his preparation as a motivational speaking topic to show how the best shooter in the league became the best shooter in the league.
For the first time in his career, though, those two-hour shooting sessions are off, several sources told Insider. With his heart no longer in Sacramento, he's spending the time with his wife and new child while he waits out the Kings.
There's also a growing rift in the locker room, with Webber, Mike Bibby, Bobby Jackson, Doug Christie and Brad Miller on one side and, well, ... Stojakovic on the other. Stojakovic isn't the only problem for the Kings. There's a growing feud between Bibby and head coach Rick Adelman that ended in a Bibby tirade against Adelman on the team plane last week.
A slow start hasn't helped matters. Any fissures that were there at the start of training camp seem to be growing by the day.
There's a growing consensus that Adelman's job is in serious jeopardy. He might be the first one on the Kings to go, but whomever replaces him is going to have to get some of the other internal issues fixed.
In Indiana, Artest's heart appears not be in it. He made that clear earlier this week when he went to head coach Rick Carlisle and asked for time off because of personal issues that led to mental and physical fatigue.
"My body has been aching; I was going to take some time off, and I said it the wrong way," Artest told reporters on Wednesday night. "Everything that happened wasn't too negative. I kind of surprised the team by wanting to take some games off, just to get back together, maybe stay home for a little bit, rest a little bit and come back." He certainly surprised Carlisle, who said Tuesday the situation "compromised the integrity of the team. It's a private team matter, and I'm going to leave it at that."
The twist, which came out Wednesday night, is that Artest attributed some of that fatigue to work he was doing promoting his rap album due out Nov. 23. When reporters asked Artest whether his work on the album contributed to his fatigue, he responded. "I've been doing a little bit too much music, just needed the rest," Artest said. "I've still got my album coming out Nov. 23. After the album comes out I'm going to make sure all of my time is focused on winning a championship."
Artest's explanation surprised the Pacers and caused a firestorm nationally. Pacers president Donnie Walsh told Insider on Thursday morning that Artest did not ask for time off because of his work on the rap album.
"He had a number of things going on his life," Walsh said. "He came into camp weighing 260 pounds. It was the first time in his career he hasn't really been in shape. The heavy minutes he's been playing were taking their toll physically. And he had other personal issues that were troubling him. The rap stuff never came up."
While Walsh doesn't discount the fact Artest's schedule promoting the album may have contributed to his conditioning and lack of focus, he had nothing but praise for Artest. "He's the one guy that gives maximum effort on our team every day, whether that be in the practice or the games," Walsh said. "That's been true this year as well. No one here is questioning his effort or his intensity. He just had some things that had to be worked out and Rick and Ron agreed on a course of action that led to him sitting out the last two games. He wasn't suspended or fined. It wasn't about that."
Last spring, Pacers executives Donnie Walsh and Larry Bird were
toasting Artest's Defensive Player Of The Year award. Artest claims the decision to sit him a few games was appopriate. "It was a good decision," Artest said. "I need the rest. There's a lot of things going on. "There was no crime done. I think it helped out. I was tired. I was doing a lot. I was running around a lot and doing a whole bunch of stuff, and I've also been
working out, so I think I wore myself down physically, I wore myself down mentally. I was ready to take some time off, at least like a month off, but two games is enough."
It didn't help the Pacers, who were blown out by the Clippers on their home floor Wednesday with Artest on the bench. While the Pacers love Artest, the player, Carlisle's patience with Artest, the person, is wearing thin. If the Pacers are going to contend for a title this year, they have to be able to trust him. Is Artest the Ricky Williams of the NBA? Is he one trip to Australia away from never coming back?
With all that's going on with each player, you've got to wonder if either is
worth trading for at this point. The Pacers discussed an Artest trade twice this summer. The first was with Orlando, when the Magic were shopping Tracy McGrady.
The second was with Sacramento, when the first signs of Stojakovic's misgivings began to surface. The two players' salaries are virtually identical, though Artest's deal runs for two years longer than Stojakovic's.
The Kings turned the Pacers and everyone else away (the Bulls and Suns also made a run), in part, because they felt Stojakovic would get over his initial disappointment of losing Divac and return to camp focused and ready to compete.
That clearly isn't happening. Stojakovic's agent has made it clear to the Kings that he'll show up to practice and play hard in the games – but he still wants out.
Given the Kings performance, and Stojakovic's in particular, it's hard to see how the Kings are going to make this work. He's not getting over it.
The Pacers continue to maintain publicly they love Artest and believe he's a vital piece of their team. But the trade talks have happened and are expected to intensify in the wake of this latest episode. In fact, the Pacers might have tried to keep the story quiet, in part, to keep his trade value higher.
Neither team is going to get a better deal for its star small forward. The Pacers would be the perfect fit for Stojakovic. They are a championship
caliber team looking for one last piece of the puzzle to put them over the top. He has a work ethic and game that Bird loves. He has the ability to hit clutch shots, and with Jermaine O'Neal drawing double-teams in the paint, he should get plenty of wide-open looks on the perimeter.
The Pacers would miss Artest's toughness and defense. There were times in the playoffs last season when he, not O'Neal, looked like the Pacers' MVP. However, he imploded in the Eastern Conference Finals, shooting just 31 for 104 from the field.
The Kings aren't going to get a better offer than Artest. Put aside the
off-court issues for a second. He's the best on-the-ball defender in the league, has emerged as a potent defensive player and has a toughness about him the Kings have sorely lacked the past few seasons.
The Kings would miss Stojakovic's shooting, but they have other players – Bibby and Jackson – who can stroke it from 3. Stojakovic has been a clutch performer, but he, too, cooled greatly in the playoffs. He shot just 31 percent from 3 after shooting 43 percent in the regular season.
Of course, the Kings can't ignore Artest's off-court issues. In a perfect world, the Pacers wouldn't make this trade, because Artest is the more valuable player.
In Artest's world, however, his flakiness quota is high enough they'd pull the trigger. You could argue a trade is just what Artest needs. He has great confidence, maybe too much confidence, and shipping him away might be the reality check he needs to get focused again. But there's just no way to predict what Artest will or won't do in Sacramento, or anywhere else. Carlisle and the Pacers have grown tired of the unpredictability. But it might be a welcome change in Sacramento. The Kings have enough support players around him, and it's clear they have to do something different this year if they're going to make a run at the title.
It's time to make the call, Larry and Geoff, before things get any worse.
Why do the things that we treasure most, slip away in time
Till to the music we grow deaf, to God's beauty blind
Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart?
Till we fall away in our own darkness, a stranger to our own hearts
And life itself, rushing over me
Life itself, the wind in black elms,
Life itself in your heart and in your eyes, I can't make it without you