Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Crazy One Is Off His Meds!

Artest to Pacers: Trade Me....from the Indianapolis Star


Injured forward Ron Artest wants to return to the court, but not to the Indiana Pacers.
In a 20-minute interview Saturday, Artest for the first time publicly said he wants to be traded. He calmly described the issues he has with his role on the team, his head coach and his past, and said the team would be better off without him.

"I still think my past haunts me here," Artest said. "I think somewhere else I'm starting fresh. I'm coming in with baggage but people already know about it and how I'm going to be. Either they're going to be for me or they're not going to trade for me. Here I think my past haunts me.
"I think they will be a better team without me."

Coach Rick Carlisle called his forward "one of the elite talents in the league."
"You never want to lose someone like that," Carlisle said Saturday.

The Pacers lost Artest for 73 games after the Nov. 19 brawl last season. They stuck with him even though he said his suspension essentially ruined their season. Now the Pacers might be forced to trade him in order to salvage an already trying season.

"I think I cause a lot of problems here," said Artest, who has missed the past two games with a wrist injury. "If the trade rumors, if there is any truth -- maybe it won't be a bad thing. They probably could win more games without me."

Team President Larry Bird was scouting in Europe and could not be reached for comment. Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh was surprised by Artest's request and said the franchise would decide the next step.

"I've never heard him say anything before," said Walsh, who acquired Artest in a trade in 2002. "He hasn't talked to me, and I see him every day."

Walsh called this latest development a distraction and chided Artest's handling of the situation.
"He can always come up and talk to me or Larry Bird," Walsh said. "From here on out, I expect Ronnie to be a professional. . . . (This) isn't the best way to get a trade done."

Until Saturday, Artest's season had been relatively stress-free. He remains one of the team's hardest workers. He hasn't irritated game officials and has reached out more to teammates off the court.

It's on the court that he's had problems fitting in with Carlisle's system.
Artest is second on the team in shot attempts and scoring at 19.4 points, but he thinks his style disrupts the offense.

"I'm so demanding of the ball. It's not my fault," he said. "Every time somebody is on me it's a mismatch. It messes up the offense. I like Coach (Carlisle) as a person, but I don't like playing for Coach. I like my team, though."

The Pacers run a structured offense in which Carlisle calls out most plays. That frustrates Artest, who has complained about the system in the past. Artest also took issue with practices. He thinks they're too soft.

"Don't get it twisted. He's a very good coach," Artest said. "He knows what he's doing. I personally don't like playing for him. I would not want to see him get fired for me after all the immaturity I've been through with this organization."

Getting offers for Artest won't be difficult -- Artest is a former All-Star and Defensive Player of the Year. But getting equal value in return could be. Artest makes $6.5 million this season, paltry by All-Star standards. Because of the salary cap, NBA trades are as much about matching salaries as swapping talent. Most players of Artest's ability make much more money, meaning the Pacers won't get a player of his caliber unless they include other Pacers in the deal.

What teams interest Artest?

His hometown New York Knicks.

"If I go to the West Coast, I would come back to New York after my contract is up," Artest said. "I would go to Cleveland. I wouldn't mind coming off the bench behind LeBron James. There's a lot of players I wouldn't mind coming off the bench behind. If it was a perfect world, I would be going to New York."

Artest seeks a system in which he can score more, which would lead to a bigger contract when his expires in 2008. He has a player option for $8.5 million for the 2008-09 season.

"Here I don't think I'm going to have a chance to maximize my opportunity for my potential," he said. "When I first got here, all I wanted to do was play defense. I never really cared about offense, but what I see is players like Kobe (Bryant), Tracy (McGrady), (Gilbert) Arenas and Jermaine (O'Neal) getting the opportunity to maximize their potential on the court and to get paid. I'm out of my character a little bit here.

"I don't think I'm going to maximize my opportunity just playing defense. I have to show I'm one of the premier players on offense on the wing. So when it's that time, there's no question what type of player I am."

Artest said he will take a few more days to decide when he is ready to return from his wrist injury.

But the question is: Will he be a Pacer when he returns?

Call Star reporter Mike Wells at (317) 444-6053.

Copyright 2005 All rights reserved.


My Comments:

While Artest did not say he wanted to be traded, he made comments about possibly playing behind Lebron and coming off the bench. And the comments about NY.

You do not make comments like that...especially, after what happened last season. Very immature and irresponsible.

I will always be an Artest fan for his play on the court, but when it comes to his behavior off of the court, well, let us just say, he is not intelligent.

Trade him for the best possible player out there...I'm not sure who is truly available, but the Pacers organization has to trade the man.

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