Closing the door on a potential trade for Ron Artest, the Clippers are no longer pursuing a deal for the Sacramento Kings standout swingman, Clippers General Manager Elgin Baylor said Saturday.
“As far as anything goes with Ron Artest, that’s a dead issue,” Baylor said. “We’re no longer talking to Sacramento about Artest ... that’s not going to happen.”
The Kings contacted the Clippers last Friday to gauge their interest in trading for Artest, the NBA’s 2003-04 defensive player of the year.
After initiating the Artest discussions, the Kings did not follow up with a formal trade proposal as expected.
Baylor, who declined to comment on the discussions with Sacramento, said the Clippers are interested in potential deals to bolster the 13-16 team.
“We’re always looking to improve the team,” Baylor said. “We talk to teams regularly about players we’re interested in, players that we think can help us, and we’ll also listen if someone comes to us with something that we think makes sense for us. That’s what you have to do when you’re trying to win.
“But that doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be something for specifically any one player on the team. And we’re not saying that we’re giving up on the team by not going after one particular player. What we’re saying is that it has to be the right situation, and we’re also confident in the players that we have.”
The Clippers are coming off consecutive victories for the first time since early this month. With a victory today against the New York Knicks, the Clippers would have only their second winning streak of at least three games.
Despite a disappointing start, the Clippers could still have a successful season, Baylor said.
“Coming into the season, we all believed this team would be better from the success and experiences we had last year, but we haven’t performed to expectations,” he said. “We pretty much have the same team and we added Tim Thomas and Aaron Williams.
“But for some reason, we just haven’t played as well as we’re capable of playing. We know we have talent, so it’s just a question of working harder and restoring our confidence in ourselves and our abilities.”
The Clippers took another step toward the construction of their proposed state-of-the-art Westside practice facility, announcing the selection of Turner Construction Co. as the general contractor for the $25-million project scheduled to begin in January.
The Dallas-based company has completed practice facilities for many professional sports organizations, including the Cleveland Cavaliers and Knicks of the NBA; the Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals and Carolina Panthers of the NFL; and the Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins of the NHL.
“It’s great we’ve hired a well-known, big-time contractor to do the facility,” Coach Mike Dunleavy said. “We’ve been waiting for this for a long time. We’re excited to have a state-of-the-art facility for our players, which will help with our recruiting” of free agents.