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Old 10-15-2006, 05:40 PM   #1
bigboi_baller
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Default ESPN: King-sized challenges for earnest Artest, coach Muss (Stein)

ESPN.com: NBA Training Camp 2006 [Print without images]

Sunday, October 15, 2006
King-sized challenges for earnest Artest, coach Muss
By Marc Stein
ESPN.com


You needn't circle Jan. 13 on your calendars. The schedule indeed sends Houston to Sacramento that night, but Ron Artest swears he isn't going to kill Bonzi Wells.

"Nah," Artest says. "I was just joking around."

Great physical harm, you'll recall, was the threat from Artest in early July if his buddy Bonzi dared to sign with anyone else..

"Oh, man," he says now, struggling to mask his disappointment over the outcome of Wells' contentious free-agent negotiations with the Kings.

"I said all that assuming he was coming back for sure."

All that includes the more benign scare tactic where Artest simply vowed, with Mike Bibby's assistance, to take Bonzi "into the bathroom, tie him up and whale on his legs" for even suggesting a move elsewhere. It was easy to crack jokes back then, when Artest was hardly alone in figuring that Wells would eventually lower his financial demands and re-up with the team that he -- not No. 93 -- carried in the playoffs against San Antonio.

But that was then. As Artest prepared for Thursday's exhibition opener against the Dallas Mavericks, he seemed anything but jokey at his locker stall. He looked and sounded as serious as I can remember, especially given his penchant, since becoming a King, for routinely making racy proclamations.

When sub-.500 Sacramento traded for Artest in January, he guaranteed a playoff berth. In April, Artest promised a first-round upset of the mighty Spurs. Then at the summer league in Las Vegas, undaunted by San Antonio's 4-2 escape in Round 1, Artest prefaced his Whale On Wells plans by telling ESPN.com that "we're going to win a championship next year and continue from there."

A few months later, "championship" never came up in two conversations with Artest. It's true that, with Artest being Artest, he's liable to read this and predict a three-peat tomorrow, but on this night?

We were introduced to Realistic Ron-Ron.

He must see that the Kings have only Bibby left from their glory days and much-less-accomplished successors at all but two positions: Bibby's spot and Artest's.

"We've got a long way to go," Artest said of the Kings' 2006-07 prospects. "I definitely have really, really high expectations, but I don't know what that is exactly right now."

Pragmatism might prove to be a rather sensible approach for Artest, who's trying to live up to his claim that "I'm getting more mature by the day." All the bravado in the world can't change the reality that the Kings are counting on two largely unproven youngsters to fill the Bonzi void -- Kevin Martin and John Salmons -- and a coach not named Rick Adelman for the first time in nine seasons.

New coach Eric Musselman is asked to describe how different the Kings will look post-Adelman and, to his credit, doesn't pretend to ignore the uncertainty as he steps into a pretty big shadow.

"That's a great question," Muss says, "because we don't know yet."

There is undeniable optimism from the Kings' loyal subjects in the stands after a 25-11 rush following the Artest trade and the scare they gave the Spurs. Trouble is, as Musselman quickly notes, losing their most effective playoff weapon (Wells) and a shortage of quality size (and proven rebounders) aren't Sacramento's only concerns.

"Some of the teams that didn't make the playoffs are better, so you're going to have to fight in the West," Musselman said. "Hopefully our guys understand that we have to get off to a good start."

It's more than "some," actually. Houston, New Orleans/Oklahoma City, Utah, Golden State and Minnesota are all better than they were, with the Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis, Denver and, yes, Sacramento under the greatest threat.

The good news?

Sacramento's outlook was considerably bleaker when Artest arrived, which didn't stop Ron-Ron from making a decent run at an immediate fairy tale.

I still wonder where the Kings will be if Artest backslides, but the gambling brothers who brought him to town -- co-owners Gavin and Joe Maloof -- still aren't listening. They continue to make Artest feel more wanted than ever before and have been rewarded for their gumption. So moved, Joe Maloof dubbed Artest their "face of the franchise" over the summer.

Bibby, meanwhile, took the initiative to drop some 20 pounds to give himself a head start in the quest to finally make an All-Star team. Veteran center Brad Miller, if not quite the West's answer to the snub-loving Gilbert Arenas, doesn't deny that the limited minutes he received during his Team USA stint "motivated me to get ready for the season." The Maloofs and the fans, furthermore, were ready for a coaching change, even after eight successive trips to the postseason in Adelman's eight seasons.

In other words, there is some tangible optimism.

It certainly won't hurt if Artest, nearly 27, maintains this more serious approach. In his Indy days, Artest undeniably struggled to accept his third-wheel status behind Reggie Miller and Jermaine O'Neal ... and even his second-fiddle status to O'Neal after Miller's retirement. Brad Miller, who played with Artest in Chicago and Indiana, contends that Artest's royal status in Kings Country lessens the odds of a trouble-making relapse.

"He's matured a lot," Miller insists. "Back in Chicago, both of us were a couple of knuckleheads just trying to figure out what the heck we were supposed to do. He's definitely assumed more of a role of that top guy on the team.

"You come out here to Sacramento and the slate starts clean. The fans here are just so good about opening up and letting what happened in the past stay in the past."

Veteran forward Shareef Abdur-Rahim echoes the idea that Artest's Kings teammates, unlike the Pacers, are not on edge waiting for the next eruption. "He hasn't done anything disruptive since he's been here," Reef said. "He works harder than anybody."

Artest already has Musselman working to update his playbook, after Muss discovered that his lockdown defender has some point forward in his game. From afar, Musselman figured Artest would be at his best setting screens for Bibby and slipping into the paint to post up little guards on pick-and-roll switches. Don't be surprised to see Artest keeping the ball on pick-and-rolls to let Bibby -- Sacramento's best shooter -- roam for shooting opportunities.

"We're going to have to adjust a little bit, because he's a lot better handling the ball than I ever imagined," Musselman said. "It's a good example of how you never know guys until you coach 'em.

"We understand it's only training camp, but we've worked to develop a rapport with him. [Artest's participation in] summer league was great. We got to sit with him by the pool at The Palms in a casual atmosphere.

"I haven't talked a lot of basketball with Ron. We talk a lot about family, rap stuff. ... Hopefully, in time, he and I will really form a bond and a trust. If we already had it, that wouldn't be good, either, because it would be fake. With anybody, it takes time."

Switch the subject from Bonzi to Muss and Artest, again, swears that there won't be any issues.

"Muss is definitely like a friend," Ron-Ron said. "I respect anything he does."

Yet you should know that Artest passed on his first chance to lessen some of the pressure on the new guy.

"He's got a tough job to do," Artest said, serious as ever.

Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here.
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Old 10-15-2006, 06:47 PM   #2
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good post bro...marc is a first class idiot firstly that first part of that article doesnt even make any sense to me.... but this is jus motivation that this is going to be a great season.... ALSO this just in!!!......Keep your eyes on the look out for a block buster trade in the works i got some info that something is going to happen.......sooner than u think...i wont say anything for sure yet but jus be on your toes and on the look out
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Old 10-15-2006, 07:04 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perezident
good post bro...marc is a first class idiot firstly that first part of that article doesnt even make any sense to me.... but this is jus motivation that this is going to be a great season.... ALSO this just in!!!......Keep your eyes on the look out for a block buster trade in the works i got some info that something is going to happen.......sooner than u think...i wont say anything for sure yet but jus be on your toes and on the look out
Share, don't make us wait.

I personally think the Kings will make a blockbuster around february, before the deadline.

Right now Mussleman likes his team and probably wants to work with them.
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Old 10-15-2006, 10:46 PM   #4
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yeah perez share it bro, if you're wrong, then oh well. i personally dont think there will be any major moves anytime soon, MAYBE with one of our power forwards though
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Old 10-16-2006, 12:45 AM   #5
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Share the news Perezident!

Anyway I think Mark is a first class idiot too. I mean the article is like yeah he's got a tough job to do, but this is just saying stuff we already know, but then he says some random dumbass stuff and throws it in. WTF?
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Old 10-16-2006, 12:51 AM   #6
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yeah cuz just saying "keep your eyes on a trade" really isn't saying anything, we all pretty much can expect it
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Old 10-16-2006, 02:05 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perezident
good post bro...marc is a first class idiot firstly that first part of that article doesnt even make any sense to me.... but this is jus motivation that this is going to be a great season.... ALSO this just in!!!......Keep your eyes on the look out for a block buster trade in the works i got some info that something is going to happen.......sooner than u think...i wont say anything for sure yet but jus be on your toes and on the look out



Hmm....Jason Hart for a 2nd rounder?!


Haha, hopefully a blockbuster trade, I just love trades.
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Old 10-16-2006, 02:20 AM   #8
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what kind of blockbuster trade you talking about kiss murder? like one of our core 3? (BAM)
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Old 10-16-2006, 02:25 AM   #9
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ok guys..but if it doesnt happen please dnt kill me...i jus heard this from a source that wishes to remain anon. .....ne way the person said kenny thomas will be traded around december or early january..... their were 2 names that poped up and they are Zack Randolph and Jeff foster....my first intial thought was ...hmmm ok ok i'm tired of hearing these pointless trade rumors about kenny....but then again i started to think... why would we do that and why would these other teams consider....kenny is a guy that indiana would love... they need a hustle guy who can help JO on the boards and who can score the ball as well...jus to be another offensive weapon on the floor and can create some spacing in the east.... plus indy was talkin about going small this year so having JO at center while kenny plays PF looks small enough to do some damage......

for portland they are tired of Zack and the want to rid of him... but they also want a solid something back for him a guy who can contribute to some extent....kenny's attitude is much better than his own and kenny is a vet who they are looking for in mentoring guys like lamarcus and the others ...

in Jeff foster i was thinking why would WE wanna trade kenny for foster??? and again i thought of our team needs....and thats help at the rebounding game..... foster is a much better offensive and deffensive rebounder than kenny thomas will ever be......foster is also a hustle guy who plays solid D..... so i think adding foster in the lineup at PF not only strictly designate... our main big 3 to have the ball more...it balances the roster a bit more also...and now we could have a solid rotation that makes since....have taylor play more PF than center.... Foster is a center trapped inside a PF's body,if the lineup of
miller
foster
ron
martin
bibby
were to come to play we not only look alot better defensively but we look alot aggresive

In Zack why would we trade for him.....well as it shows now ..it looks as if bad guys turn around when they reach to sac town....and they settle them selves in and have more of an urge to win ball games....Zack brings alot of intensity to the mix ..he brings the size and strength that that postion lacked since webber left....he also brings that 8 footer jump shot that we were accustomed to seeing back in the day....he brings that low post offense also he draws double teams....and we all know what the end result of that is..either 3 ball for martin 3 ball for bibby 3 ball/jump shot for brad...or a slashing cut move for ron and the foul!!! to the basket......

either one of those guys are great replacements in my point of view and i wouldnt mind it at all...i hope these speculations are true to some extent... and something happens quick but the way i say it kenny is out of here no doubt.......

but if i had to choose.... i'd pick foster because he is an Xfactor no one would pay attention too...and the guy can score..... he can easly give u 10 10 a game just off put backs.....the reason i wouldnt choose randolph is because...he's a bit use of being the main man now...and intends to force things a little...and because of his contract....but no other beef with him....well u guys got the info ...i wanted to keep it but hey! why not get your views on it

Last edited by Perezident : 10-16-2006 at 02:35 AM.
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Old 10-16-2006, 02:41 AM   #10
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PLEASE NOT ZACH. I HATE THAT GUY WITH A PASSION. He's a rapist, a criminal, and just a bad guy in general. He's a lazy team cancer who's slow, doesn't work hard, and doesn't play D. The other team I like are the blazers, I hear all about his bull**** and how he's always late to practice. He would give Musselman a heart attack if he didn't eat him first! I hope that we don't get Randolph, he's an overrated loser with no game and he sucks balls.
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Old 10-16-2006, 02:47 AM   #11
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what about trading for a big expiring contract and snatching a good free agent big man this summer?

what about darius miles tho? they would like to trade him too.
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Old 10-16-2006, 03:12 AM   #12
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eh this rumor is crap to me if it is true, zach randolph? zach randolph?!?. foster would be ok however I like how he plays.

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Old 10-16-2006, 12:47 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Targus™
eh this rumor is crap to me if it is true, zach randolph? zach randolph?!?. foster would be ok however I like how he plays.

thats what i'm sayin bro.... i rather foster for kenny str8 up any day than randolph..........shucks i rather zack morris than randolph..... i hope we get foster tho....and i'm starting to think we will get him too...because he was involved with a rumor for bonzi as well and he was also n a rumor with the peja trade.... foster is exactly what we need on this team... if we could trade kenny and another loser for foster ..that would be good because we could clear up a roster spot for williams in my view...also indiana wants to move foster any way...not because of his worth ethic or any thing like that...because they feel that harrison is goin to be great and they want to play him more.... and foster has his backup spot on lock....in my view harrison is a little better all around player than foster so they would jus be willing to pull the trigger on this
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Old 10-16-2006, 03:08 PM   #14
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how is jeff foster not a loser?
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Old 10-16-2006, 03:59 PM   #15
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Zach Randolph got game, and people were saying the same things before Webber came to town. Plus Zach is a NCAA champ, he's not a loser.
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