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Deal for Artest falls through

Trade to Kings not imminent

CLEVELAND -- The Ron Artest trade to Sacramento is off -- for now.

The Pacers had reportedly agreed to ship the volatile forward to the Sacramento Kings for Peja Stojakovic, but Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said last night that no deal was imminent.

''There is no trade right now and there may not be a trade," Carlisle said before Indiana played the Cavaliers in Cleveland. ''There's nothing to talk about because there is no trade."

ESPN and The Indianapolis Star had reported earlier yesterday that the teams had agreed to the trade, which was merely awaiting league approval. But Carlisle shot down that report.

''Anything involving speculation and 'what's up' can be saved for another time," Carlisle said. ''If there is a trade at some point, you'll hear about it."

Artest confirmed to the Star that the deal had collapsed, but left open the possibility that something could still happen.

''There's no deal," Artest told the newspaper by telephone. ''It's not that I don't want to play there . . . I'm letting my agent handle things. He's taken over things."

Artest's agent, Mark Stevens, had told the Associated Press earlier yesterday that a deal to move Artest ''is imminent, almost as soon as possible."

After the trade apparently collapsed, he did not return calls from the AP.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, which cited sources close to the situation, Sacramento pulled out of the deal last night after Artest's agent told the Kings that his player would have reported to the team but immediately would have requested a trade. Stevens told the Kings that his client ''had no desire" to play for Sacramento but he would report to the team and ''not be happy."

The deal would have ended a lengthy standoff between the Pacers and Artest, who was deactivated in December after requesting a trade and was suspended most of last season for his role in one of the worst brawls in US sports history.

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