Wednesday , Jan , 25 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

On again: Artest finally sent to Kings for Stojakovic

Sacramento, CA (Sports Network) – The on again, off again trade of Ron Artest
to the Sacramento Kings has finally been concluded.

On Wednesday, Artest was sent to the Kings in exchange for sharpshooter Peja
Stojakovic.

The Indianapolis Star reported Tuesday that the teams had agreed to swap the
two All-Stars and the deal was awaiting approval from the NBA.

However, according to the Sacramento Bee, Artest’s agent Mark Stevens called
Sacramento president Geoff Petrie shortly after word got out about the
impending trade, and told him his client did not want to play for the Kings.
Petrie backed out of the deal as a result of the conversation.

Since, Artest met with Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh and team president Larry Bird
at Conseco Fieldhouse on Wednesday morning and after a lengthy discussion
decided to accept the trade.

“We wish Ron the best at Sacramento,” said Walsh. “There’s no doubt in our
mind he’ll have an immediate impact on their team.”

Artest played in just 16 games for Indiana this season, averaging 19.4 points
and 4.9 rebounds per contest before being placed permanently on the inactive
list in early December. Artest battled a wrist injury early in the season, but
sealed his own fate after an interview with an Indianapolis newspaper during
the weekend of December 10-11, in which he blasted the organization and
requested a trade.

The 2004 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Artest made headlines last
season when he charged into the crowd after fans after getting hit with
debris during a game against the Detroit Pistons at the Palace.
Commissioner David Stern showed no mercy, as he suspended Artest for the
final 73 games of the season.

The 6-foot-7 forward has averaged 14.6 points and 4.7 rebounds in seven
seasons with the Chicago Bulls and Pacers. Artest was a first-round pick of
the Bulls in 1999 and was traded along with Ron Mercer, Brad Miller and Kevin
Ollie to Indiana for three players, including Jalen Rose, and a second-round
draft pick in February 2002.

“Ron Artest is going to bring a dimension to this team that we haven’t had in
a long time, maybe since I’ve been in Sacramento, in terms of his defensive
abilities, his presence on the court, his versatility, his size and strength,”
Petrie said. “Given where we are at this point of the season, we think he’ll
come in here and really make an impact.”

Stojakovic is averaging just 16.5 points per game this season, his lowest
scoring output since the 1999-2000 campaign. The three-time All-Star is
shooting just 40 percent from the floor and has been slowed by various
injuries.

“Peja’s just been a great, great player here,” Petrie said. “We’ve seen him
develop from a rookie into a three-time All-Star. He’s been a total
professional. We certainly wish him the very best with Indiana. He’ll always
be a favorite member of the Kings organization.”

The 6-foot-10 guard has spent his entire eight-year career in Sacramento,
becoming a staple of the franchise during its current seven-year playoff run.
Stojakovic has averaged 18.3 points and five rebounds a game in his NBA
career.

“Obviously, we’re very happy about getting a player of his caliber,” said
Bird. “He’s one of the best shooters in the league and we definitely feel he
can come in and help us right away. We think he’ll fit in with our team
because he’ll help spread the floor and give our big men better opportunities
to score.

IND SAC