Initial agreement for trade falls apart

A tentative agreement for a trade that would have sent Indiana Pacers forward Ron Artest to the Sacramento Kings in exchange for Peja Stojakovic has collapsed, ESPN's Jim Gray reported Tuesday.

Gray reported earlier Tuesday that both teams had agreed to the trade, pending league approval. Then, according to Gray, Artest informed both teams he did not want to go to the Kings. In light of that, Gray reported, the Kings have decided against the trade.

Artest confirmed to The Indianapolis Star that the deal had collapsed, but he left open the possibility something still could happen.

"There's no deal," Artest told the newspaper by telephone. "It's not that I don't want to play there ... I'm letting my agent handle things. He's taken over things."

Artest told the Star he is not against a trade but would like to be involved in negotiations.

"I just want to meet with team officials of whichever team I'm headed to," he said in a story posted on the newspaper's Web site. "I want to play, but I'm following the rules I have to follow. If I have to sit out, I sit out the season."

Indiana coach Rick Carlisle also said Tuesday night the trade with the Kings wasn't going to happen.

"There is no trade right now and there may not be a trade," Carlisle said before Indiana played the Cavaliers in Cleveland. "There's nothing to talk about because there is no trade."

"Anything involving speculation and 'what's up' can be saved for another time," he said. "If there is a trade at some point, you'll hear about it."

Donnie Walsh, the Pacers' chief executive and president, issued a statement echoing Carlisle's remarks.

"As I have said before, until there is a deal completed, we do not have a deal," the statement said. "We do not have a deal and will not comment on any premature reports regarding a trade involving Ron Artest."

The deal would have ended a lengthy standoff between the Pacers
and Artest, who was deactivated in December after requesting a
trade and was suspended most of last season for his role in one of
the worst brawls in U.S. sports history.

Before the deal apparently broke down, Kings players were already talking about the trade as if it was a done deal.

"Peja will be missed," Kings forward Corliss Williamson said. "He's been in Sacramento for a lot of years, but life goes on in
the NBA.

"We'll welcome Ron Artest with open arms and hope he'll be able to help us. You always hear about the situations he's been in and
all the hype. Maybe this is the change he needs, to come into our system and flourish."

Even Stojakovic himself had braced for the eventuality of a trade when word spread of his involvement. He was told by the Kings to stay behind at the team hotel when they left for Tuesday's game at Philadelphia. He did accompany the team to New York for the Kings' game Wednesday night.

Meanwhile, the Pacers are still looking for a place to send Artest.

Artest was a key component to a team that was expected to challenge for the Eastern Conference crown. He led the league in
steals and was the Pacers' second-leading scorer at 19.4 points a game before being deactivated after publicly requesting a trade in
early December.

In five years with the Pacers, Artest was an All-Star once and was the NBA's defensive player of the year in 2003-04.

Pacers GM Larry Bird said the Pacers had been interested in Corey Maggette of the Los Angeles Clippers, but there was "no question" that Maggette's sprained left foot affected the process. Maggette averaged 21.7 points in 13 games before getting injured in early December.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.