Cheshire Jets Rumors
Ron Artest doesn’t want to part ways with the British Basketball League’s Cheshire Jets just yet. It’s only been three weeks since he boasted to The Times, “I’m definitely playing for the Jets.” But plenty of cold water has poured on that possibility. Artest postponed his planned trip to the U.K. from Aug. 18-23, his agent David Bauman said, partly because of the team’s failure to offer insurance. Bauman has since said Artest won’t join the Jets should they refuse insurance. And, oh yeah, it just became official that Artest will be featured on “Dancing with the Stars,” beginning Sept. 19.
Artest said he is going to sign with the Cheshire Jets in Great Britain, but will decide by Nov. 22 whether to join the club if the lockout continues. Artest said he has been offered more money to play with more highly regarded teams overseas but he likes the small arenas and laid-back atmosphere in Britain.
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.
Bauman, who had said as early as late June that Artest would need insurance before accepting an overseas offer, was asked whether he had informed Artest about his concerns as Artest publicly expressed enthusiasm for playing in the U.K. “I think you can conclude that,” Bauman said. “Obviously, my advice was not to do it.”
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.
A deal to sign LA Lakers forward Ron Artest to the Cheshire Jets is not dead – but the club faces a battle to finalise his signing. Artest issued a public apology via Twitter on Thursday after postponing a visit to Chester. He published via @ronartest: “UK sorry I couldn’t make it this week can’t wait to meet the JETS!!!!”
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.
Lakers star Ron Artest was last night keeping the Cheshire Jets and the wider basketball world on tenterhooks over his proposed move to the BBL Championship side. The 31-year-old forward, who helped the Lakers lift the NBA Championship in 2009, is currently in possession of a contract from the Jets and was due to fly into Britain today to take part in a press conference and fulfil a number of media engagements over the weekend linked to his signing.
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.
Even though he doesn’t have a contract finalized, Lakers forward Ron Artest declared his intention to play for the British Basketball League’s Cheshire Jets. “I’m definitely going to play for the Jets,” Artest said in a phone interview Thursday night. “I’m definitely going to play for the Jets.”
“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.”
Consider his commentary on what’s exciting him about playing in Finland: “One reason I want to go to Finland is it’s the cleanest country in the world. It’s the cleanest country in the world. I want to experience that. I’m amazed by that. … That’s the future. I think I want to come back to America with that experience. I want to tell everyone my experience about how they’re treating the Earth. It’s very important to me.”
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 ESPNLosAngeles.com 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 ESPN.com 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.”