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Peja-for-Artest Close? Or Peja Gives Sacramento a Hometown Discount?

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From the always reputable (snicker snicker) Peter Vescey of the New York Post:

I have it on excellent authority the Pacers and Kings are exceedingly close to swapping Ron Artest (three more years after this on his contract with a right to opt out after two) for Peja Stojakovic, who has the freedom to opt out after this season or play out the next.

Then again, let me put it another way: The two teams are as close as my Paper Clips were to acquiring Artest for Corey Maggette before an Indiana doctor decided the swingman's left ankle was too great a risk.

According to three sources, it's strictly Sacramento's call; the Pacers are agreeable and ready to deal...

Emphasis mine.

For what it's worth, the Indianapolis Star has their seemingly daily trade talks update:

The Indiana Pacers appear to be closing in on a trade involving Ron Artest.

Meanwhile, Sam Amick reports in The Bee that Peja seems willing to ignore a max contract offer to stay in Sacramento after this season:

But Stojakovic told The Bee on Sunday that he'd rather stay in Sacramento for the long haul - past the Feb. 23 trading deadline and right on to the end of his career.

"I would love to play for the Kings for the rest of my career," said Stojakovic, who was drafted by the Kings out of Serbia-Montenegro in 1996, began playing for them in the strike-shortened 1998-99 season, and has played more games as a Sacramento King (518) than any other player.

"That would be a good thing. I think every player that ends with the team he started with, that means something."

Even if it means turning down bigger offers and considering a "hometown" discount?

"I think money is not going to be a huge thing in my mind," he said. "It's what I think, what I feel like."

...

Still, as one league executive predicted, at least one team may very well offer the max. If that's the case, Stojakovic - who has a player option worth $8.2 million for next season on his current contract that no one expects him to exercise - may have to accept less to stay in Sacramento.

Stojakovic doesn't have to go far to find someone who understands his stance. On Jan. 8, center Brad Miller - the Indiana native who is signed with the Kings through 2010 - told the Indianapolis Star that, when his Kings contract expires, he would sign with the Pacers for the veteran's minimum salary to finish his career with his hometown team.

"That's what I mean," said Stojakovic, relating to Miller. "I look at Sacramento as my home, because I don't know anything better."

Sorry for the hefty snips there. Nothing is convincing enough in Amick's piece to make me believe Peja. If Atlanta or Chicago or another franchise opens up the pocketbook and offers up $80 million, I'm not thinking Peja is going to stick around for $50 million. Color me cynical.

Updates as I hear them.