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Artest, Wallace join new teams

RON Artest finally joined the Los Angeles Lakers but wouldn't promise another championship on Wednesday as other recent NBA champions made moves that could get them back to the top.

The Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs signed veteran power forwards, with Rasheed Wallace joining the Celtics and Antonio McDyess agreeing to a deal with the Spurs.

They left the Detroit Pistons, who added Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva to a former title contender looking to get younger and better.

Wednesday was the first day deals could be signed, and Artest called it, "a long time coming," saying he's wanted to join Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles for many years. He received a five-year deal worth about US$33 million, according to his agent, David Bauman.

Bryant has said he's not sure the Lakers are a better team with Artest, who agreed with the assessment.

"It's not a given that just because you add me to the team we're going to be the No. 1 team," Artest said. "You've got to put that work in.

"That's something that I'm not afraid to do."

He changed places with Trevor Ariza, who took Artest's forward spot at the Houston Rockets. Ariza decided to leave a starting role with the champions and an attempt by the Cleveland Cavaliers to change his mind.

"It was tempting - very, very tempting," he said. "But at the end of the day, I felt like Houston was the best place for me. I got approached by some really good teams. I felt like I could help this team a lot more and help myself also by being here."

Gordon and Villanueva agreed to their deals on July 1, the day free agency opened. Gordon, one of the top free agents this summer, signed a US$55 million, five-year contract in leaving Chicago and Villanueva inked a US$35-million, five-year deal as he bid farewell to Milwaukee.


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