Despite a recent report from ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, which said that Lakers’ Ron Artest wants out of L.A., the outspoken forward says that entirely untrue.
In a recent ESPN report, Artest says he’s still happy as a Laker and isn’t interested in playing elsewhere.
“No, definitely not,” Artest said.
Stein cited a source close to Artest, who claimed the 11-year NBA veteran is unhappy with his limited role in the team’s offense, and feels he’s being blamed too much for the Lakers’ collective struggles.
This season, Artest is averaging career lows in points (8.1 per game) and shots (7.6 per game). He said that he understood his role as an offensive player would diminish when he signed with the Lakers before the 2009-10 season, and difficulties in adjusting to a still-evolving role shouldn’t be mistaken for discontent.
Not only has his output diminished this season, but his playing time has also dipped to 27.8 per game, about five minutes fewer than his first season in Los Angeles.
“Ron’s limited in his activity, simply because he got banged up in the Boston game,” head coach Phil Jackson said of Artest’s time on the bench during their recent losses to Boston and Houston.
“He’s really limited. He’s not running freely. You can see it [in the second half against Houston] — he couldn’t get loose again. A lot of things go into this besides the speculation which you guys have going on.”
Jackson also dismissed the report of Ron wanting to leave as well.
“You guys know that’s something we don’t put credence in. Those reports have very little to do with what’s really going on,” he said, adding he believes life in Los Angeles suits Artest well. “I think he likes the Lakers, and I think he likes the action, and he likes the attention we get as a basketball club. I think that feeds into who he is as a person.”
Despite the widely circulated report, Artest has gone about his business, not letting it bother him much.
“I just went to get some breakfast, man, and [went] to practice,” he said. “Serious. I’m gonna get some breakfast and go to practice. You can’t worry about it. We won yesterday, but didn’t play great so we still got a job to do here. So just come to practice and get ready, and try to work towards another banner.”
So for now, it looks like Ron will remain a Laker.