CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A day after the NBA trade deadline passed and Ron Artest stayed put, the Sacramento forward skipped into the Kings' locker room about an hour before the tipoff of Friday's game against the Charlotte Bobcats.
``Go Kings go! Go Kings go!'' Artest yelled. ``We don't need any cheerleaders. Go Kings go!''
Yet just minutes later when Artest was asked if he was happy to still be a King, the smile was no longer on his face.
``I have no comment,'' Artest said. ``The most important thing is winning. That's the only thing that makes me happy. I'm happy when we win. I'm a sore loser.''
The Kings, 25-28 entering Friday's game, have done a lot of losing this season and are hopelessly out of the playoff race. Artest can opt of his contract after the season and Sacramento had discussed trading their small forward.
Denver was the most mentioned landing place for Artest, but no deal was completed before Thursday's deadline.
``To be honest it was touch and go,'' coach Reggie Theus said. ``I know that if something was going to happen it was going to have to be something that was going to be some form of fair market value.
``To the organization's credit, this was not a fire sale. This was not something that they were just trying to unload a player. In my estimation they would have had to come up with something pretty significant to make it happen.''
But that means Artest, averaging 19.4 points, could leave in the offseason with the Kings getting no compensation. But for the first time Friday, Artest acknowledged he and agent Mark Stevens have discussed not opting out of the final year of his contract.
``He changed the whole plan,'' Artest said. ``I thought we were going to do it but he said he wanted to go about it in another way. It's up to my agent. You don't know who's going to offer you money. I don't know if anybody wants me.''
Artest's heavy baggage, from a brawl in Detroit to other legal issues could make other teams shy away. Yet Theus praised Artest on Friday for how he has stepped up his defense along with his scoring.
``From what I've been reading in the blogs, everybody hates me, so I don't know,'' Artest said. ``What I read in the blogs, nobody loves me.
Forward Kevin Martin then interrupted Artest.
``Ron isn't going anywhere,'' Martin said.
Artest wasn't so sure.
``I don't know. I'm not really worried about it,'' Artest said. ``Wherever God is going to put me, he's going to put me.''

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