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Artest says he's signing with Lakers (UPDATE)

Posted on: July 2, 2009 6:56 pm
Edited on: July 3, 2009 2:17 am
 

Shaq can have LeBron. Ron Artest says he'll take Kobe.

Artest, whose versatility and toughness have made him one of the most coveted and combustible players in the NBA, told CBSSports.com Thursday that he's signing with the Lakers.

"I'm definitely going to L.A. -- to sign, yeah," Artest said in a phone interview. "Lakers, Lakers, Lakers. I'm in L.A. right now."

Artest said he met with Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss Thursday and previously had spoken with Lakers coach Phil Jackson. He was en route to his financial manager's office, where he planned to huddle on the phone with his agent, David Bauman, to finalize details.

Artest's exuberance -- he spent the whole summer in L.A., including several appearances at Lakers home games during the NBA Finals -- got ahead of the process a bit. Other teams that made overtures for Artest -- including the Cavaliers -- have not yet been notified that Artest is signing with the Lakers. (Consider them notified.) Bauman has spoken with Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak, and a person with knowledge of the negotiations told CBSSports.com that Artest agreed to a five-year deal for the full mid-level exception -- about $33 million. It's the same deal that Houston agreed to with Trevor Ariza, who swaps cities with Artest.

"I don't really care about the money," Artest said. "I'll play there for nothing. ... L.A. was very interested in me, and they got me."

UPDATE: Lakers spokesman John Black declined to comment on Artest's assertion, but another person with knowledge of the situation corroborated Artest's account that he will sign with L.A. pending the passing of the weeklong moratorium on player movement, which expires July 8.

Only 24 hours earlier, the buzz was focused on Artest joining LeBron James and Shaquille O'Neal in Cleveland in what would've made a potent Big Three on the shores of Lake Erie. It would've been, well, eerie, too: Artest's internal combustion engine, combined with LeBron's exquisite dominance and Shaq's alpha-male, all-around Shaq-ness would've been something to see.

But Artest said talks with Cleveland "never got that far." Told that Cleveland, by all accounts, had extreme interest, Artest said, "I don't know how extreme. I love the Cleveland Cavaliers, though. I love LeBron and Coach (Mike) Brown and Shaq."

But what he really loves is L.A.

"L.A. is what it is," Artest said. "I've been here for the whole summer, and it's pretty good. It's good for me. I know Lamar Odom, so that's pretty cool."

Artest spoke as though Odom would return to the Lakers to join Artest and Kobe Bryant for another title run. Although the Spurs and several other teams were interested in Odom, the Lakers have the inside track. L.A.'s other free agent, Trevor Ariza, agreed Thursday to sign with Houston for the same mid-level deal Artest got from the Lakers.

UPDATE:
The addition of Artest is a coup for the defending champion Lakers, who have faced the prospect of trying to retain their own free agents, Odom and Ariza, and have seen other contenders make major efforts to improve. Most notably, the Celtics dispatched their Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce, along with coach Doc Rivers and managing partner Wyc Grousbeck to Detroit on Thursday to offer free agent Rasheed Wallace a mid-level contract. Cleveland's acquisition of Shaq put the Lakers, Celtics, and Magic on notice that the Cavaliers were making a serious push for a title next season. The Cavs' pursuit of Wallace, Artest, and Ariza signaled that they weren't finished after the pre-draft trade for Shaq.

"I talked to Coach Phil, and I was happy to talk to him," Artest said. "Big fan of Coach Phil. My agent talked to Kupchak, and I met with Dr. Buss. I'm very, very excited."

 

Comments

Since: Sep 26, 2006
Posted on: July 3, 2009 2:17 pm
 

Artest says he's signing with Lakers (UPDATE)

All you Laker haters praying that Ron goes bananas is tripping. Ron respects Kobe more than any other player. Plus Lamar and Ron are close friends. You can say what about Ron's previous mistakes. He has not been in any trouble since the brawl. But when it comes to basketball, artest is a flat out baller. Sure he took some bad shots in the playoffs against the Lakers last year. In LA his back to the basket skills in the triangle offense will be fantastic. Ariza was a great defender but could not get his own shot, Artest can.  So it will be Celtics/Lakers rematch in the finals, if the Celtics sign Wallace. Spurs, Nuggets, Cavs and Magic all should contend tho. Maybe NO but they haven't done enough to upgrade their weak lineup.



Since: Sep 26, 2006
Posted on: July 3, 2009 2:09 pm
 

Artest says he's signing with Lakers (UPDATE)

Hater, LOL



Since: Sep 26, 2006
Posted on: July 3, 2009 2:08 pm
 

Artest says he's signing with Lakers (UPDATE)

lol, hater



Since: Sep 26, 2006
Posted on: July 3, 2009 2:04 pm
 

Artest says he's signing with Lakers (UPDATE)

Older model?? Check the numbers cuz..



Since: Jul 3, 2009
Posted on: July 3, 2009 2:02 pm
 

Artest says he's signing with Lakers (UPDATE)

Well, I guess it goes to show you that his credibility was okay and you and your friend's don't have as much brains as you think you have...ahem.



Since: Jan 14, 2009
Posted on: July 3, 2009 1:48 pm
 

Artest says he's signing with Lakers (UPDATE)

Quoting L.A's VERY OWN Bill Plaschke "The Lakers just gave up a 24 year old future star for an ageing nut!"  Though Artest is a better player, watch for that clubhouse to implode in on itself.  Honestly I hope it does, because as a Nugget's fan if this does work out and Kobe and he do get along...it's pretty scary.




Since: Jan 17, 2008
Posted on: July 3, 2009 1:38 pm
 

Artest says he's signing with Lakers (UPDATE)

I'm not sure this move benefits the Lakers. I mean does Kobe need another semi superstar... no they need a young defensive player like Trevor Ariza. Trevor fit perfectally with that team. He made the big defensive plays needed that ultimatley lead to a championship. Artest is just chasing the LA media and money so he could do something stipudly foolish that messes up the chemistry with the team.

Be aware of  ( if sign ) the big contract; the lack of production - and sorry to say - the failure to return to the big dance.



Since: Jan 12, 2009
Posted on: July 3, 2009 12:37 pm
 

Lakers Made a Big Mistake

If Artest is really signing with the lakers than that sucks Ariza is a better player and he is only 24 he has time to learn more



Since: Jan 11, 2007
Posted on: July 3, 2009 12:36 pm
 

Artest says he's signing with Lakers (UPDATE)

WOW, what a bargain the lakers got. If this goes thru, this'll be the best free agent signing by far. Artest is an upgrade from Ariza. He's a better defender, and although he's a streaky shooter, he can do more offesnively than ariza can. plus he shoots the 3 at 40%, a very strong percentage.

I know Artest and Bryant don't like each other. Lakers are the team to beat.



Since: Jul 3, 2009
Posted on: July 3, 2009 12:19 pm
 

The Lakers just might implode

... I'm reserving judgement for now, though.

Everybody thinking that this means an automatic repeat for LA needs to re-evaluate this.


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com