This is who many were calling for. According to this ESPN article, Artest wants to play his final season as a King – at the bottom of the Western Conference in no man’s land evidently…
ESPN: Sacramento Kings forward Ron Artest, attending Tuesday night’s Game 6 of the NBA Finals, told ESPN.com that he’s “99 percent sure I won’t opt out of my contract” this month to become a free agent July 1.
Although he left that one-percent sliver of wiggle room, Artest has been insisting for weeks that he wants to play out the final season of his contract with the Kings — at nearly $8 million — before thinking about free agency. He has also expressed hope that Sacramento will consider a contract extension, but the Kings have yet to show a willingness to go that route.
There likewise remains a chance that Sacramento could again seek to trade Artest — most likely after July 1 once his contract status is made official — even if he bypasses free agency. The Kings seriously explored the market for Artest in conjunction with the league’s annual February trade deadline, most notably in talks with the Denver Nuggets.
The Los Angeles Lakers are already widely expected to revisit past trade interest in Artest after repeatedly losing the toughness battle in this series to Boston, although making trades with teams from the same division — especially teams that have the history L.A. and Sacramento share — are complicated to say the least.
Artest has a June 30 deadline to notify the Kings whether he plans to play out the final season of his contract or opt for free agency. But putting free agency on hold for one more year could conceivably increase trade interest in the 28-year-old, since Artest would be playing next season on an expiring contract.
“My agent [Mark Stevens] wants me to have a chance to prove that I can win games [in Sacramento],” Artest said. “So we are not considering opting out.