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Champion Lakers poised to sign free agent Artest - report

THE NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers are on the brink of signing Houston Rockets forward Ron Artest, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Artest, a veteran of 10 seasons in the league who was the 2004 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, met with Lakers executives in Los Angeles yesterday, the newspaper reported.

Should the Artest deal go through, the Lakers are likely to offload 24-year-old free agent Trevor Ariza whose manager has been liaising with Houston officials, according to media reports.

The NBA's free-agent market opened on Wednesday, although players can not officially sign with new teams until July 8.

Artest, 29, is expected to accept a slight pay cut on the US$7.4 million he earned last season with the Rockets.

A formidable defender known for his physical presence, Artest averaged 17.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists in his 2008-09 campaign.


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