Cheshire Jets Rumors

Artest said he remains interested in playing for the Cheshire Jets of the Britain Basketball League, but won’t make an official decision until after Nov. 22, provided the lockout hasn’t ended. Artest’s agent recently told the Los Angeles Times that the Jets have yet to offer Artest insurance to play. “I’m definitely going if I’m not playing [in the NBA],” Artest said. “…It’s pro basketball. It’s going to be fun. Small gym – I want to go somewhere nice and small. I’ve had other opportunities to make more money in other places, but I want to play in a small area.”
“I’m not going to lie to anybody,” Bauman continued. “Ron fully intends to play for the Jets. Once all the information trickled in and we had a good pow-wow and it was very apparent there was a $21-million risk to agreeing to a deal like this, that’s when we started to slow things down a little bit.” That’s why Bauman said he’s advised Artest to wait to see how the negotiations surrounding the pending collective bargaining agreement turn out, arguing to wait until the Lakers’ scheduled training camp approaches in late September before pursuing overseas offers. Bauman also declined to address whether Artest will follow through on his plan to play an unspecified number of exhibition games with the Loimaa Bisons, a professional basketball team in Finland, during one week in September.
It’s possible Ron Artest may not bring [Metta] World Peace to England after all. Though Artest declared his intention to The Times two weeks ago that he’s “definitely going to play” for the British Basketball League’s Cheshire Jets, his agent, David Bauman, said the team hasn’t offered Artest insurance, which poses a “major problem” and would prevent the Lakers forward from joining the team. “It’s still on the table,” Bauman said Tuesday in a phone interview. “But again, this insurance thing is a significant and a serious obstacle for any of the NBA players.”
Later it was reported the deal had been scrapped, Artest’s agent unhappy with the $33 million star’s insurance package to play during the NBA player dispute known as the ‘lockout’. But while the chances of Artest signing slimmed last week, club director Pete Hawkins says they are still in talks with his agent and lawyers to try to come to a deal. “The next few days we need to work really hard,” he said.
But Jets are still waiting for the superstar to actually sign the contract so they can formally introduce him to the British public. Artest, in the middle of a $33 million contract with the Lakers, began to consider a move to Britain because the NBA entered into a pay dispute with the NBA Players Association – the union which represents all NBA players including Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Artest. That row resulted in a lockout which prevents NBA teams from signing, training or interacting with players.
Their team website indicates that their season begins Sept. 30 and runs through April 22, 2012, but Artest said he won’t join the team until late November because he plans to appear in an unspecified number of exhibition games with the Loimaa Bisons, a professional basketball team in Finland, during one week in September. Naturally, Artest also said he’ll spend that week hosting an unspecified number of comedy shows and making appearances promoting various mental health charities. Per FIBA rules, Artest would have to return from any overseas venture to rejoin the Lakers as soon as the NBA lockout ends.
“If people want to play the best defensive player of the game, come to the U.K. I’m going to be right there,” Artest answered. “I’m not chasing anybody. If teams want to play one of the best defenders in the history of the NBA on the wing, come to the U.K. I’ll be right there. I’m going to be right there. I’m not going to other countries. I’m from New York City. I play in L.A. U.K is a big country. I’m going to fit right in. I’m going to play hard. If people want to play against Ron Artest, play basketball and not chase the money and play passionate basketball against Ron Artest, come to the U.K. I’m going to be there and we’re going to be going hard.”
Also consider how Artest’s plan to play overseas originated: “It all came from Twitter. I looked to see where I can play at. I had Glasgow Rocks [of the British Basketball League], they were Twittering me. Then I had the Jets. I just thought it was cool that this professional team is trying to get me. I thought it was fun and cool to experience. The opportunity for me seemed fun in getting the chance to play in the U.K. and entertain the fans.”
One possibility, according to a source with knowledge of the Jets’ plans, is trying to find Artest a role on a British soap opera. Artest’s publicist, Courtney Barnes, said that Artest will be in the United Kingdom Aug. 18-23 and is scheduled to meet with the Jets during his stay to discuss options outside of basketball available to him. “Ron is just going to the UK to take a meeting,” Barnes said in a phone interview with Thursday. “That’s it.
The Cheshire Jets are offering to help Ron Artest grow his off-court profile in the United Kingdom as a means of enticing the Los Angeles Lakers’ swingman to play with the British Basketball League club this fall in the event of an extended NBA lockout. Jets director Peter Hawkins told Thursday that his team, in an attempt to offset the monetary limitations it faces compared to clubs from bigger leagues in Europe, will try to get Artest prominent TV work in England, should he agree to join the Jets. “You’ll appreciate that we haven’t got the means to entice someone of Ron’s standing on financial grounds,” Hawkins said. “Our commitment is to help raise Ron’s profile in the UK in order to help him develop his music and movie career over here while playing basketball.”