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News » Cavs reportedly make play for Artest and L.A.'s Ariza

Cavs reportedly make play for Artest and L.A.'s Ariza

Cavs reportedly make play for Artest and L.A.'s Ariza

Two players who didn't seem like they were going to be available to the Cavaliers ended up in the team's crosshairs at the end of day one of the NBA free-agency period.

According to several league sources, the Cavs are attempting to land Houston Rockets free-agent forward Ron Artest, and the pitch included a meeting with LeBron James on Tuesday night in Los Angeles as both were in Southern California for various events.

In addition, a league source indicated the team is trying to attract Los Angeles Lakers swingman Trevor Ariza, who appears to be disgruntled with the Lakers' early attempts to re-sign him.

Ariza's agent, David Lee, told the Riverside, Calif., Press-Enterprise Wednesday, "I think I'm being optimistic when I say it's not going anywhere." He added that Ariza might be ready to sign elsewhere.

ESPN reported Ariza had been in contact with the Cavs coaching staff.

Both players are unrestricted free agents and are being courted by several teams. Without a sign-and-trade deal, the most the Cavs could sign a player to is a salary starting at around $5.6 million with their midlevel exception. Artest made $7.4 million last season, Ariza $3.1 million.

Artest is believed to prefer to play for a championship contender and is thought to be considering the Lakers and Celtics in addition to the Cavs. With the Rockets facing the uncertain injury status of stars Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady, it is unclear how hard they will try to push to re-sign Artest.

The Rockets have had interest in Cavs free agent Anderson Varejao in the past, which opens up some possibilities of a sign-and-trade scenario. The Cavs, however, have said they want to re-sign Varejao.

Artest, 29, played for Mike Brown when he was the associate head coach of the Indiana Pacers from 2003 to '05. He is the type of forward the Cavs would be interested in, as he has the ability to stretch the floor with range out to the 3-point line.

Artest is an excellent defensive player and a former NBA Defensive Player of the Year who can guard a variety of players, which would fit nicely with James, who can do the same.

What isn't clear is how Artest would mesh with the Cavs. He does not have a background that fits the type of player the team usually attempts to acquire. In addition to his role in the infamous brawl in Detroit five years ago, he was suspended after pleading no contest to a domestic violence charge two years ago. In all, he's been suspended nearly a dozen times by the NBA.

However, Artest has been a good citizen for the past two years and helped carry the Rockets into the second round of the playoffs last season. He averaged 15.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.2 assists for the Rockets in 2008-09.

Ariza, a 6-8 wing player who forged his reputation as a top perimeter defender during the Lakers' championship run, has said he wants to stay with the Lakers. But with three players already under maximum contracts for next season and Lamar Odom also a free agent, the Lakers' budget is thin.

The Lakers sold two draft picks last week to help the balance sheet and it looked as if they were preparing to re-sign both Ariza and Odom. Perhaps they still will, but things are choppy at the start of the talks.

Ariza, who turned 24 years old Tuesday, averaged 11.2 points and shot 47 percent from 3-point range during the Lakers' 23-game playoff run.

Villanueva off board: Call it the Carlos Boozer effect. The free-agent market was turned upside down on Tuesday when Boozer decided not to opt out of his contract with the Utah Jazz.

The Detroit Pistons were believed to be considering spending some of their nearly $20 million in cap space on Boozer but instead moved on to one of the Cavs' targets. In part of a package deal with former Connecticut teammate Ben Gordon, power forward Charlie Villanueva agreed to a deal with the Pistons on Wednesday.

Reports had Gordon committing to a deal worth around $55 million over five years and Villanueva coming to terms on a five-year deal worth between $35 million and $40 million. The most the Cavs could offer with their midlevel exception was five years and around $32 million.

Meanwhile, the Oklahoma City Thunder, who have the second-most cap space, reportedly are considering making a contract offer to Jazz restricted free agent forward Paul Millsap. It was widely believed the Jazz would retain Millsap, but Boozer staying has pushed the team into luxury-tax territory.

As a result, the Thunder, according to some reports, may try to take advantage by making Millsap an offer.

Old rivals squaring off?

It appears as if the Cavs and Celtics are going to be competing intensely over a couple of free agents. Yahoo Sports reported that Celtics General Manager Danny Ainge visited Pistons free-agent forward Rasheed Wallace for a pitch Wednesday. Wallace is one of the players expected to be on the Cavs' list.

Also, the Cavs and Celtics are both believed to be courting Raptors free-agent guard Anthony Parker. The Raptors reportedly have considered re-signing guard Carlos Delfino after taking a shot at Orlando's Hedo Turkoglu, so Parker might be available.

Kuester a candidate?

Several outlets in Detroit reported that Cavs assistant coach John Kuester, who won a championship as an assistant in Detroit in 2004, is a candidate for the Pistons head coaching job. The Pistons have not yet requested permission from the Cavs to interview him.

Mary Schmitt Boyer contributed to this story.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:, 216-999-5166

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: July 3, 2009


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