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Ron Artest credits Rick Adelman for getting his career back on track

Adelman motivated Artest to lead the Kings when he arrived in Sacramento in 2006.

San Antonio Spurs v Sacramento Kings Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

Metta Sandiford-Artest, who used to be known as Ron Artest, was in a bad place when he was traded to the Sacramento Kings in 2006.

Artest had missed almost the entirety of the 2004-05 season because of his role in the Malice at the Palace. Being with the Pacers didn’t feel right after the brawl, so he requested a trade in December and was inactive for 24 games before Indiana honored his request and sent him to Sacramento.

As a result, Artest was nowhere near game shape when he got to the Kings. He was still in a rough spot mentally because of everything that had happened, and he didn’t expect to be of much use to his team. According to the story Artest told Sam Amick on the “Tampering” podcast, head coach Rick Adelman had other ideas:

“I remember getting with Rick Adelman, and I just got traded to Sacramento, and I tell Rick, I said, ‘Listen, you know I’m 273 (pounds), and I’m still super depressed because my career is not where — it’s not perfect exactly how I want it, you know?’ So I’m just like ‘Whatever.’ I go up to 273 pounds, the Kings trade for me, and I’m just like, ‘Rick, I don’t think I can play.’ I said, ‘You shouldn’t start me. You probably shouldn’t play me, you know?’ And he says, ‘Ron, we’re going to go as far as you take us. That’s what’s going to happen.’ And I’m just like, ‘You know Rick, I just, I can’t. I’m 273. He said, ‘Well, get to work.’”

The Kings turned around pretty quickly after Artest’s arrival. They were in 10th place in the Western Conference at 18-24, but went 26-14 after the trade to end up in eighth place and keep their playoff streak alive.

Artest made an immediate impact defensively. Sacramento had a defensive rating of 105.2 points per 100 possessions before the trade and 101.7 afterwards. Even though he wasn’t an efficient individual scorer himself, Artest gave a jolt to the Kings’ offense as another player who could handle the ball and needed to be guarded. The team was 13.9 points per 100 possessions better with Artest on the floor that season, the highest on-off split of his career.

Sacramento was a feisty No. 8 seed and gave the Spurs all they could handle in the first round of the playoffs. The relationship between Artest and Adelman was so constructive that they reunited in Houston in 2008.

Artest was a mercurial figure during his NBA career, but that 2006 Kings team needed the spark that Artest brought, and Adelman was able to bring out the best side of him.