Artest excited about opportunity with Rockets

HOUSTON -- Ron Artest officially joined the Houston Rockets on Thursday.

The Rockets announced the five-player trade with Sacramento that also brought forward Patrick Ewing Jr. and guard Sean Singletary in exchange for guard Bobby Jackson, rookie forward Donte Greene and Houston's first-round pick next year.

"This is definitely the high point of my career," Artest said in a conference call. "It's the biggest opportunity I've ever had playing basketball."

The trade was first reported July 29 but couldn't be announced until Thursday because Greene had to spend 30 days with the Rockets after signing with them July 15. He was acquired from Memphis in a draft-day trade.

The 6-foot-7, 248-pound Artest averaged 20.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists for the Kings last season.

The Rockets don't think they're taking a chance on the 28-year-old Artest, known as much for his volatile personality as his basketball skills.

When he played for Indiana, Artest was the central figure in the brawl with fans at The Palace of Auburn Hills during a game against Detroit early in the 2004-05 season. He was suspended for the rest of the season -- 73 games, the NBA's harshest punishment for a fight.

In December, two civil lawsuits against Artest that stemmed from the fight were dismissed.

Rockets owner Leslie Alexander said he was reassured about Artest's character in a conversation with former NBA guard Greg Anthony, who was Artest's teammate briefly in Chicago.

"He's a different person than he was years ago," Alexander said. "He cares about his on-court performance more than he ever has in his life."

The trade will reunite Artest with Rick Adelman, who coached Sacramento when Artest was acquired by the Kings during the 2005-06 season.

Artest played 40 games for Adelman and averaged 16.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and a career-high 4.2 assists. He was also named to the NBA All-Defensive first team.

Artest said Adelman used him at all five positions at some point, trying to neutralize the opponents' best scorer. Artest said he'd be willing to do anything to fit in with the Rockets.

"I'll be ready," Artest said. "Whatever Adelman needs me to do, come off the bench, be the sixth or seventh man, start, I don't even care. Whatever he needs me to do, I'm 100 percent sure it's going to work."

The Rockets went 55-27 last season, but failed to get past the first round for the fourth time in five seasons. Alexander thinks Artest is the missing piece to a championship-caliber team.

"This guy really puts us over the top in terms of what we need," Alexander said. "We have a great team to start on the floor and a bench. I think we're going to go really far."

Jackson averaged 8.8 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists for the Rockets last season. He appeared in all six playoff games in 2008, averaging 8.7 points and 1.5 assists. Jackson played for the Kings from 2000-05.