Fletcher’s Note: Please, please, please……let Artest join the Hornets!
RUMOR HAS IT…
Today’s section is geared exclusively towards the latest rumors floating around the NBA …
Opting Out? Multiple sources tell HOOPSWORLD that Ron Artest is seriously considering opting out of the final year of his contract. Artest can stick with the Sacramento Kings for one final year at $7.4 million or choose to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Should Artest choose to opt out, he would likely look for a full Mid Level Exception (MLE) deal with a championship contender such as the Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio Spurs or even the New Orleans Hornets.
The current MLE starts at $5.356 million. While it may climb slightly, Artest is said to be open to the idea of a five-year, $31 million contract. One source says Artest believes he’s worth far more than that, but is coming to grips with the NBA’s tightening economic climate.
Very few teams have cap room this summer. Unless the Kings are willing to give Artest a long-term extension, he’d be in a similar situation next year. There may be a few more teams with space, but there’s a high probability they’re unwilling to spend it on a player with such a “difficult” reputation.
If Artest embraces the notion that he may never get a deal larger than the MLE, he may forgo the additional ~$2.1 million to stay with the Kings and lock in as much long term money as he can this summer.
The Spurs are said to have tremendous interest. The talent alongside the big three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili is waning. Artest would give San Antonio a worthy successor to the 37-year old Bruce Bowen.
It’s a little trickier with the Lakers considering the contracts they have committed to Vladimir Radmanovic and Luke Walton. Since neither has made a particularly high impact this season, LA may be open to the idea despite the financial repercussions.
Coach Phil Jackson has always been interested in Artest. Imagine the team currently playing in the NBA Finals with the addition of Artest along with the return of Andrew Bynum. Artest also has a strong relationship with both Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom.
It’s difficult to say if the Hornets would have interest. They need a shooting guard but creative lineups with Peja Stojakovic and Artest could bolster their chances in the Western Conference.
As far as the potential for a sign and trade, the Kings aren’t going to take in any players or salary they don’t covet. To acquire a risky player like Artest, few teams are going to give up choice assets to make tempt Sacramento into a deal.
His ultimate decision could have a major impact on next year’s playoff picture.