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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: Oct 18, 2006
Posted on: July 2, 2009 11:27 pm
 

Artest says he's signing with Lakers (UPDATE)

This is terrible!  Why are Laker fans excited?  Artest is not a team player.  At this point in their careers, Ariza is the better defender.  And Ariza has WAY more upside than Artest.  I do NOT get this at all...the Lakers just got worse.



Since: Mar 28, 2008
Posted on: July 2, 2009 11:16 pm
 

Artest says he's signing with Lakers (UPDATE)

and hello to you, too, TyThomas-etc.



Since: Jul 2, 2009
Posted on: July 2, 2009 11:05 pm
 

Artest says he's signing with Lakers (UPDATE)

He wants to go to the Lakers and get a ring FINE LET HIM. That ring wont be worth a thing. Every Star does the same thing. The big three went to the Celtics and got their ring. Artest wants a ring regardless of the fact that HOUSTON invested 2 First round draft picks in him and only got one year out of him. I dont blame him I blame the GM. This is the mercenary way of players these days.There is going to be the Celtics and the Lakers and the rest of the League and people are going to wonder why the NBA is so DANGED LOPSIDED. Go get your Ring Ron Ron. It certainly doesnt mean what it use to. sheessh.



Since: Mar 3, 2007
Posted on: July 2, 2009 10:56 pm
 

Artest says he's signing with Lakers (UPDATE)

Chemistry problems? This seems like it might work, and if it does, then the Lakers could be in for another championship, but if not...
Meanwhile, Yao is probably gone, and now Artest is out of there. The Rockets are toast.



Since: Nov 23, 2007
Posted on: July 2, 2009 10:25 pm
 

Artest says he's signing with Lakers (UPDATE)

I can see the practice and game arguments already...



Since: Jul 9, 2008
Posted on: July 2, 2009 10:21 pm
 

Artest says he's signing with Lakers (UPDATE)

If Artest is on, Ariza is gone



Since: Apr 19, 2009
Posted on: July 2, 2009 10:10 pm
 

Artest says he's signing with Lakers (UPDATE)

With several teams making key acquisitons this offseason, the Lakers needed someone to make them the favorite once again.  With them getting Ron Artest now, I don't see anyone even touching them next year. It wouldn't surprise me at all if they won 70 games next year. If Odom comes back it'll be a forsure 5th championship for Kobe. 




Since: Jan 15, 2009
Posted on: July 2, 2009 9:55 pm
 

Artest says he's signing with Lakers (UPDATE)

This is just to good to be true, i think Artest is just pushing the Rockets for a huge deal this is just hard to beleive.
I would love to see Artest in LA..



Since: May 15, 2007
Posted on: July 2, 2009 9:45 pm
 

The Rich Get Richer as the Poor Get Poorer

I am not hating, but it drives me crazy how once a team makes it to the top, how easy it can be for them to stay there.  It seems to me that teams that have established a tradidtion of winning always seem to be the ones that draw in the big free agent names.  Celtics get Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, Lakers now get Ron Artest.

As a small market fan (growing up as aMilwaukee Bucks fan and now living in Minneapolis with the Timberwolves) I have to instead deal with players like Yi Jianlian and Ricky Rubio saying they don't want to play for the teams that draft them because they want to be in a bigger market.

It only makes me wonder if the Cavaliers didn't sign Shaq how quickly Lebron James would have fled to the Knicks...




Since: May 26, 2009
Posted on: July 2, 2009 9:35 pm
 

Artest says he's signing with Lakers (UPDATE)

Artest playing alongside Kobe Bryant has been talked about for quite some time now, I was kind of surprised it didn't happen earlier. Ariza is now out of the picture for sure, but you figure that Odom isn't going anywhere.


It's hard right now to say that this move makes the Lakers a better team, seeing that they went 65-17 last year. The concern is with style of play, because, with the exception of the NBA Finals, LA was a fast paced-team, scoring 106 a game. Trevor Ariza played into that plan, with his exceptional 3 point shooting ability and his quickness on both ends of the floor. Ron Artest, on the other hand, is a clutch, but not neccessarily good 3 point shooter. He is stronger than Ariza down low, but he is also slower attacking the rim. Artest's previous teams, the Pacers, Kings, and Rockets seldom averaged 106 ppg for a full season while he was there. Chances are LA will be a little slower next year too.


The real reason LA will get better is that Artest can consistently create his own shot. He is going to command the attention of the defense, which inevitably makes Bryant's life easier. You can say within reason that Artest will average twice as many ppg next year as Ariza did this year. We can also say that he is a top notch defender, but that only applies when his head is in the game. He will have to be level-headed in order to fill the void Ariza leaves, because teams don't win championships without clutch 3's, timely steals, and reliable free-throw shooting. Artest is obviously better than Ariza at all of those things, but between the two of them Ariza is the one with the ring. Mental toughness makes all the difference.



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