Artest says he's signing with Lakers

Ken Berger

Shaq can have LeBron. Ron Artest says he’ll take Kobe.

Artest, whose versatility and toughness have made him one of the most coveted and combustible players in the NBA, told Thursday that he’s signing with the Lakers.

"I’m definitely going to L.A. — to sign, yeah," Artest said in a phone
interview. "Lakers, Lakers, Lakers. I’m in L.A. right now."

Artest said he met with Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss Thursday and
previously had spoken with Lakers coach Phil Jackson. He was en route
to his financial manager’s office, where he planned to huddle on the
phone with his agent, David Bauman, to finalize details.

Artest’s exuberance — he spent the whole summer in L.A., including
several appearances at Lakers home games during the NBA Finals — got
ahead of the process a bit. Other teams that made overtures for Artest
— including the Cavaliers — have not yet been notified that Artest is
signing with the Lakers. (Consider them notified.) Bauman has spoken
with Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak, but parameters have not yet been agreed
to. Still, it’s pretty clear where Artest is going.

"I don’t really care about the money," Artest said. "I’ll play there
for nothing. … L.A. was very interested in me, and they got me."

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