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Thursday, January 5, 2006
Warriors coach Montgomery mum on Artest rumors

Associated Press

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Coach Mike Montgomery was evasive Thursday about Golden State's possible interest in acquiring Ron Artest from Indiana.

Ron Artest

Yet Pacers coach Rick Carlisle acknowledged the Warriors are apparently one of many teams interested in Artest, who has been on the inactive list for the last 13 games and isn't traveling with the club.

"I've heard Golden State mentioned, but I've heard 17 or 18 other teams mentioned. What I can tell you is whoever ends up with him is going to get a top-10 player who's a real difference maker, who's a bona fide All-Star and maybe the best two-way player in the game," Carlisle said before his team played at Golden State on Thursday night. "Certainly at his position he is. I understand why there's a lot of interest."

Artest, a sixth-year pro and former NBA defensive player of the year, said last month he wanted to leave the Pacers and make a fresh start elsewhere, still haunted by his suspension for last season's brawl with Detroit Pistons fans that cost him 73 regular-season games and the playoffs.

Pacers team president Larry Bird has said he feels "betrayed" by Artest and general manager Donnie Walsh would just as soon get a trade done in a timely manner. Carlisle said he prefers to stay out of it and focus on his job, noting he is one of Artest's biggest supporters. Indiana came in having lost five of six.

Names reported as possibilities in a trade if the teams were to come to a deal are Golden State's Troy Murphy and Mickael Pietrus.

"Is it about Ron? If it's about Ron, I'm not answering," Pacers guard Stephen Jackson said.

Montgomery declined to discuss how Artest, Indiana's second-leading scorer at 19.4 points per game, might fit in with his team -- which began the season with big hopes of ending a league-worst 11-year playoff drought.

"Picture me as Sgt. Schultz -- I know nothinnnnngggg," Montgomery said sarcastically. "It's all speculation. You guys are just going to have to do your homework and dig around in the trash cans a little bit. We've got a good group of guys. They get along. There's certainly some maturation that has to take place, some growth in this group for us to get where we want to get. But it's a good group of guys that seems to enjoy each other."