Pacers encouraged by 12-15 offers for Artest
Indiana Pacers president Donnie Walsh is "encouraged" by the quality of the offers he has received for Ron Artest, including what he said were at least two proposals involving All-Star caliber players.
Without being specific about any of the 12-15 offers he said he had received, Walsh told ESPN.com he had heard from 20 teams, some of which merely called to ask what Walsh was looking for. Walsh said he was planning to get back to three of those teams to make specific requests.
"I've talked to a lot of teams, discussed myriad types of offers. Some are player for player, some involve first-round draft picks, some involve savings, some involve a combination of those things," Walsh said. "I'm encouraged by some of the things we were offered."
He would not set a timetable for trading Artest, though he did concede: "I'd like to get it behind us, but I don't feel any [time] pressure to do it. I'd like to winnow it down to two or three deals I'd like to do."
Artest has been placed on the inactive list and told to stay away from the team while Walsh fields trade offers. Artest's agent said he expects a trade to be completed by the end of the week. On Friday, Walsh told ESPN's Steven A. Smith that the Pacers will keep Artest on the inactive list for the rest of the season if they are unable to trade their disgruntled All Star. In that case, Artest would still receive his full salary.
Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird is in Spain on a scouting trip and has been receiving daily updates from Walsh over the telephone. Bird has made no plans to shorten his trip, Walsh said.
In the five days since Artest asked for a trade, saying he felt restricted in Rick Carlisle's offense, the rest of the Pacers have distanced themselves from him. Jermaine O'Neal said he'd like to see the Pacers acquire Bonzi Wells or Al Harrington for Artest.
Many league executives say Artest might only be a good fit for a coach with a proven track record of working well with players needing extra guidance. Three that fit that mold include Phil Jackson of the Lakers, Pat Riley of Miami and Larry Brown of the Knicks.
The Lakers were said by several sources to be one of the teams most interested in Artest, though not to the point where they'd consider trading Lamar Odom. The Heat could trade Antoine Walker, whose salary is almost an exact match for Artest's, while Knicks president Isiah Thomas' refusal to discuss Channing Frye has taken New York out of the running.
"I'm assuming I can't get a guy as good as [Artest]," Walsh said, adding that he had no preference for trading Artest to a Western Conference team rather than one from the East. "We're just going through the process to get to a point where we can choose something we like."
Chris Sheridan, a national NBA reporter for the past decade, covers the league for ESPN Insider. To e-mail Chris, click here.
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