Denver Emerges As A Serious Contender For Artest
The Nuggets are now major players in the Ron Artest sweepstakes, according to an NBA source Monday.
The Indiana Pacers are expected to deal the controversial Artest, a 2004 NBA all-star, in the near future. The potential Artest deal likely would include numerous teams for financial reasons. If the likely multiteam deal is consummated involving the Nuggets, expect injured forward-center Nene to be included.
"We're just waiting to hear from (Pacers CEO) Donnie (Walsh) on something," Artest's agent, Mark Stevens, said via telephone Monday.
Stevens recently predicted Artest would be dealt after the holidays and has been talking to Walsh regularly. With Christmas now past, the Pacers have intensified their hopes of trading Artest. He recently asked to be traded and then recanted the statements, but the Pacers still plan on moving him.
The Eastern Conference Pacers also seem intrigued about moving Artest to the Western Conference. Rumored interested West teams include Denver, the Los Angeles Clippers and Lakers, Golden State and Minnesota. The Pacers reportedly also could be interested in adding a player who is in the final year of his contract to cut salary. Nene and Nuggets guard Voshon Lenard, who has asked for a trade, are in the final years of their contracts.
"Anytime you deal a player, you would like him to go out of the conference," Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird told The Indianapolis Star on Monday. "We're looking at the West, but if it's the East, that's how it's going to be.
"Whether we get a draft choice or a player, we're going to make sure it's the right deal. We've done enough to back Ronnie. We're in a position where we have to protect the franchise now."