Kings Owners Deny Rift
Sacramento Kings co-owner Joe Maloof acknowledged Sunday that the Kings are receiving trade inquiries for Ron Artest but disputed the claim that he and brother Gavin Maloof are avoiding the forward.
"Ron has been terrific for us," Maloof told ESPN.com in a phone interview. "He's a wonderful talent. I'm sure he gets frustrated. His opinion is that maybe he should have opted out [of his contract]. But I think the best thing for him is to play out the contract and earn his next contract with a great year. He's got to stay mentally focused.
"We love him. He's been great in our community, our fans like him and he works hard. I know he's just frustrated, but Gavin and I, we appreciate everything Ron has done for us. We don't have any problems with him.
"We've always been accessible to our players, but we leave all the basketball decisions to [Kings president Geoff Petrie]. We don't like to interfere with Geoff. That's not our style."
When asked if he expects Artest to be a King once training camp starts in October or to characterize Artest's future with the club, Maloof said: "I can't really answer that."
But he dismiss an oft-cited theory that the Kings, because of their fierce on-court rivalry with the Lakers early in the decade, wouldn't make a trade with their divisional neighbors.
"Absolutely not [true]," Maloof said. "We're rivals with the Lakers, but we respect them as an organization. If we can make a move that improves our situation, it doesn't matter who the other team is.
"The Lakers do want him," Maloof continued. "But so do about six other teams."
-- Marc Stein