Are Warriors first in line to acquire Pacers' Artest?
By Marcus Thompson II
CONTRA COSTA TIMESOAKLAND - Word is, the only thing holding up the Warriors' trading for beleaguered Indiana Pacers All-Star forward Ron Artest is tonight's game.
See, the Pacers don't want to trade Artest and then have to face him right away so they're waiting until after tonight's game. This way, Indiana wouldn't have to deal with Artest until Feb. 10 when the Warriors play at Conseco Fieldhouse.
Sounds convincing, right?
"Whatever," Warriors guard Jason Richardson said with a smirk on his face. "I don't listen to no rumors."
Whether through rumors or media reports, the Warriors consistently have been mentioned as being among the teams pursuing a trade for Artest, who wore out his welcome in Indiana last month by asking to be traded.
Neither Warriors executive vice president of basketball operations Chris Mullin nor general manager Rod Higgins would comment for this article. It is team policy not to discuss trade speculation or players on other teams. But there is reason to believe there might be some truth to the rumors.
Anonymous sources from other teams are leaking information to various media outlets that the Warriors are seriously involved. Plus, Higgins and Mullin stayed in Oakland during the recent road trip. At least one of them usually accompanies the team on the road.
Speculation involving the Warriors has included power forward Troy Murphy, small forward Mike Dunleavy, swingman Mickael Pietrus and rookie Ike Diogu.
The new collective bargaining agreement makes Dunleavy hard to deal. The five-year, $44 million extension he signed just before the season began takes effect next season, but it increases the dollar figure assigned to Dunleavy from $4.5 million to about $8 million for any team that trades for him this year. Hence, trading Dunleavy almost assuredly would require a third team with salary cap space.
The same holds true for Murphy, but for a different reason. He's hard to move because he's considered a base year compensation player. According to the CBA, when a team over the salary cap gives its player a raise of 12 percent or more, as the Warriors did Murphy before last season, that team can get back only half the player's contract value in a trade for the first year. So, though Murphy is making $7.36 million this season, the Warriors could get back only $3.68 million.
"I haven't spoken with anyone from Golden State," Artest's agent, Mark Stevens, said. "Whoever wants him, that's where he'll go. If Golden State wants him, he'll be happy to play with Golden State. I don't think it would be a problem fitting in there."
The Pacers have said they want to get a deal done soon but have grown increasingly patient. The Indianapolis Star reported Pacers president Larry Bird said he'd prefer to trade Artest to a Western Conference team.
"Any time you deal a player, you would like him to go out of the conference," Bird told the Star. "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."
With the Warriors trying to snap an 11-season playoff drought, Artest is the kind of player who can make them a real contender in the Western Conference. He certainly would help their struggling defense.
That might be enough to have Mullin working to acquire the troubled All-Star. Unless, of course, that smoke is billowing from nothing.
Notes: Warriors center Adonal Foyle (back spasms) is questionable for tonight's game. Foyle, who lost his starting job to Diogu, missed the final two games of the road trip, at Houston and at Memphis. But he said Tuesday he was feeling better. The Warriors said he will be a game-time decision.
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This could really be the start of a collapse that should never have happened
migya make the ring fall on ya
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