Cheshire Jets reportedly offer Ron Artest help in off-court roles
Conceding that the British Basketball League's Cheshire Jets don't have the financial resources to sign Lakers forward Ron Artest, Jets director Peter Hawkins told ESPN.com's Marc Stein that the team will try to land Artest unspecified music and television roles.
"You'll appreciate that we haven't got the means to entice someone of Ron's standing on financial grounds," Hawkins said in the report, adding that one possibility for Artest might entail starring in a British soap opera. "Our commitment is to help raise Ron's profile in the UK in order to help him develop his music and movie career over here while playing basketball."
Artest's publicist, Courtney Barnes, couldn't be reached for comment, but he told The Times on Tuesday night that Artest plans to go to the United Kingdom Aug. 18-23 to speak with Jets officials about possibly playing for them during the NBA lockout.
On Tuesday afternoon, Artest suggested his plans to play with the Jets on Twitter. He posted a picture of Jets center Matt Schneck holding a jersey that referenced his proposed name change to Metta World Peace. He also tweeted the following message: "Go Jets!!!!! Uk , here we come!!! Jets are the best!!! Jets are the best!!! New chant!!!!!!!!!"
Artest, who battled inconsistency and averaged 8.5 points per game in the 2010-2011 season, suggested earlier this month that his consideration to play in the United Kingdom involves a desire to expand his off-court branding.
"I'm just trying to have fun," Artest said after performing at the Brea Improv Comedy Club. "If I go somewhere, whatever I do in L.A., it'll be the same thing over there. If I go overseas, I want to be able to have fun with the fans and with the people. I don't want to be bored. I want to be somewhere where we can play ball and have fun. That's why I'm interested in the U.K., because I can really go there and make it a rap show. Just play ball, be crazy and entertain. I want to entertain."
The Jets' team website indicates that their season begins Sept. 30 and runs through April 22. Per FIBA rules, Artest would have to return to rejoin the Lakers as soon as the NBA lockout ends.
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: Ron Artest. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times