“I’m definitely going to play for the Jets,” Artest said in a phone interview Thursday night. “I’m definitely going to play for the Jets.”
That brings near closure to a series of negotiations that Artest said lasted for two months and expects to finalize soon. At first, he remained wary about that possibility because the uncertainty on how long the NBA lockout lasts. His agent, David Bauman, wanted to seek insurance for Artest in case he was injured. But with the league and players union appearing to make little progress on a collective bargaining agreement, Artest said he asked himself one question: “I thought, ‘Where can I go to play ball and enjoy myself’ “
That answer apparently includes more than just the Jets.
Their team website indicates that their season begins Sept. 30 and runs through April 22, 2012, but Artest said he won’t join the team until late November because he plans to appear in an unspecified number of exhibition games with the Loimaa Bisons, a professional basketball team in Finland, during one week in September. Naturally, Artest also said he’ll spend that week hosting an unspecified number of comedy shows and making appearances promoting various mental health charities. Per FIBA rules, Artest would have to return from any overseas venture to rejoin the Lakers as soon as the NBA lockout ends.
As reported by The Times on Tuesday, Artest still plans to be in Britain from Aug. 18-23, where will he talk with Jets officials, hold a news conference, mingle with fans and, in his words, “make sure it’s a good fit.” Artest said he will make between $1,500 to $2,500 a month playing for the Jets, although that’s not definitive since the deal isn’t finalized. As reported by ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, the team will try to land Artest unspecified music gigs and television roles because of its tight finances, including helping him land a possible appearance on a British soap opera. FULL STORY