ESPN: Pacers agree to deal Artest to Kings for Peja

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SDRay

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http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=2304512

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Pacers have agreed to trade Ron Artest to the Sacramento Kings in exchange for Peja Stojakovic, ESPN's Jim Gray has confirmed Tuesday.

By late Tuesday afternoon, Stojakovic was awaiting confirmation of the deal.

He told ESPN.com's Marc Stein, "I don't think it's official yet, but it will be."

The deal closes a chapter in the Pacers' latest drama involving the volatile star forward.

Kings owners Gavin and Joe Maloof on ESPNEWS would not comment directly on ESPN's report that the Kings, pending league approval, will trade Peja Stojakovic to the Pacers for Ron Artest. "We're awaiting final word," said David Bauman, Stojakovic's agent. Stojakovic was told to stay behind as the Kings were departing their team hotel for a game against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Artest was a key component to a team that was expected to challenge for the Eastern Conference crown. He led the league in steals and was the Pacers' second-leading scorer at 19.4 points a game before being deactivated after publicly requesting a trade in early December.

In five years with the Pacers, Artest was an All-Star once and was the NBA's defensive player of the year in 2003-04.

Pacers GM Larry Bird said the Pacers had been interested in Corey Maggette of the Los Angeles Clippers, but there was "no question" that Maggette's sprained left foot affected the process. Maggette averaged 21.7 points in 13 games before getting injured in early December.

The Pacers have lost four of their last five games, including Monday to the Atlanta Hawks, who have the NBA's worst record.