Ron Artest is not going home to play for his beloved New York Knicks. Artest didn't get the fairy-tale trade to join his Southern California buddy Kobe Bryant, either.
He's also not complaining.
Artest was unmistakably giddy in the early hours of Wednesday morning in a phone conversation with ESPN.com as he discussed his forthcoming trade to the Houston Rockets.
"I'll be a kid in a candy store," Artest said. "I'll be a kid in a store with a lot of candy. I'm going to dance with the stars."
Instead of the trade to Hollywood to Bryant's Los Angeles Lakers, as many around the league expected, Artest is headed to Houston for a reunion with Rick Adelman, who ranks as his favorite pro coach.
In a swap first reported Tuesday night by The Houston Chronicle, Sacramento has agreed to part with its rugged but controversial swingman in exchange for a first-round pick in 2009, newly drafted Rockets rookie Donte Greene, Kings alumnus Bobby Jackson (and his salary cap-friendly contract) and a first-round pick in 2009.
Personally, I think the bigger story is Bobby Jackson returning to the Kings, but that's just me.
I'm just happy Artest didn't end up on the Lakers. The last thing that impressionable young roster needed was a malcontent like Artest poisoning the locker room. If the Rockets can keep him in line, though, I like their chances of actually getting out of the first round next season.
I'd have to see McGrady and Yao actually healthy at the same time before I'd say they get out of the first round. And, even with Artest, they probably will be the 5 or 6 seed, meaning a Game 7 in Round 1 would likely be played in San Antonio or Utah.