NBA superstar Ron Artest is heading to the UK for transfer talks after agreeing to play for Cheshire Jets.
The LA Lakers forward – one of the best players in world basketball – has been in negotiations for weeks with directors of the Chester-based club over appearing for them during the ongoing NBA ‘lockout’.
America’s top stars are banned from playing professionally in the States while the NBA and the players’ union try to settle a pay dispute.
In a moment of opportunism earlier this month, Jets made an enquiry about luring Artest to the UK – and, incredibly, he is willing to come over and play for them.
Now the two parties have agreed to meet face-to-face to thrash out the finer details of what would surely be the biggest transfer coup in British basketball history.
Jets director Pete Hawkins said: “I spoke to Ron’s representatives on Tuesday night. We have agreed the fundamentals of the deal and Ron is coming over (to England) in a few weeks.
“What we need to do is match up our timetables because we need him here for the start of the season, but there is a bit of a clash of timetables.
“If we can sort that out then the deal will be done, but talks are ongoing so hopefully we can get everything straight-ened out in time.”
Jets were alerted to the possible availability of Artest after he made comments on the social networking website Twitter about his willingness to play in the UK.
The club’s sensational interest in the player made headlines on both sides of the Atlantic after the story was broken exclusively by The Chronicle on July 7.
Artest is now scheduled to come over to Britain to meet Jets officials in September before returning home to fulfil other commitments, which are likely to rule him out of the start of the British Basketball League campaign.
Jets are also trying to re-sign centre Matt Schneck, who has been coaching at the Jets’ summer camp this week.
Hawkins said: “We are working on a deal to get Matt the value he deserves and hopefully we will know in a week’s time if we are likely to re-sign him.”
Summer camp action – p85.