Report: Artest doesn't want to leave friends in Sacramento

Updated: July 10, 2007, 3:20 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Ron Artest

Artest

The Ron Artest-to-the-Knicks trade winds have been downgraded by the player himself to a slight breeze.

Artest told the New York Post that he wants to remain with Sacramento and retire as a King. Artest's comments contradicted statements his agent made last week, indicating that his client, a Queens native who attended St. John's, wanted to return home.

"I really want to finish my career in Sacramento because of my relationship with some of the players," Artest said, according to the Post. "I want to finish with Sacramento. I feel attached to Sacramento. I want to be their franchise player."

Stein: Artest Pleased

Last month, Ron Artest told ESPN.com's Marc Stein that he was pleased by the hiring of Reggie Theus as the Kings' new coach and expected to remain with the franchise. Blog Insider

Artest also said he was told by Kings general manager Geoff Petrie that he would not be traded, and Artest told Petrie he probably would not opt out of his contract after next season, the Post reported.

"Ron is going to be a King," Petrie said Monday, denying he has had any conversations with the Knicks' front office. "People are having conversations with themselves."

Artest has two years left on his contract and can opt out next summer, but he told the Post that was unlikely.

"I'm not looking to break the bank. I probably won't opt out," he told the newspaper. "I'm not chasing the money too much. I'm worried about winning more than opting out. For $8.5 million [in 2009-2010] I won't complain."

Artest, a mercurial forward and former Pacer best known for his role in instigating Indiana's brawl with Detroit Pistons fans at the Palace of Auburn Hills in 2004, is coming off a troubled 2006-07 season. After being accused of animal cruelty, which did not result in charges, he was arrested and charged in March with assaulting his wife. Artest pleaded no contest to the charge in May and was sentenced to 100 hours of community service and a 10-day work project.

He finished the 2006-07 season averaging 18.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.