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Ron Artest

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The critics are still out on what kind of defensive identity the Knicks will develop under new coach Mike D'Antoni. Perhaps Ron Artest can help.

The New York Knicks may have a chance to sign Artest to a five-year, $30 million mid-level exception, if he opts out of the last year of his contract with the Sacramento Kings and becomes a free agent on July 1. That contract would pay him $7.4 million. It's even a possibility the Knicks could work a sign-and-trade with Sacramento, if the Kings would agree to it.

When the Daily News asked the Queensbridge product if he would like to play for the team he grew up watching, Artest flashed a huge grin.

"Who wouldn't want to?" Artest said in the tunnel outside the Garden's locker rooms following yesterday's WNBA game between the Liberty and Monarchs. "I'm not going to talk about that stuff till July 1. I don't play for the money, I play for the love."

As the Indiana Pacers president, Donnie Walsh acquired Artest in a 2002 trade with the Chicago Bulls. Walsh also dealt the former St. John's forward to Sacramento in 2006 after his role in sparking the notorious Pacers-Detroit Pistons brawl at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

Source: New York Daily News

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