8. Ron Artest
Few players can say that they’ve had a career as, well, let’s just say interesting, as the player formerly known as Ron Artest — now Metta Saniford-Artest. Before coming to Sacramento, Artest had earned a reputation as a strong defender who was beginning to blossom into a star.
After being traded to the Indiana Pacers along with future King Brad Miller, Artest began to come into his own, being named to his first two All-Defensive teams in addition to an appearance in the 2004 NBA All-Star Game while also being named to the All-NBA third team in 2004. It seemed as though Artest was about to make the leap, at least that was until one fateful game against the Detroit Pistons.
Early into the 2004-05 season, Artest would find himself facing the largest suspension of a player in NBA history (86 games) due to his role in the infamous “Malice at the Palace.” Artest would miss the rest of the regular season and 13 playoff games. While Artest would begin the following season with Indiana, he would soon after demand a trade leaving many in the Pacers’ organization feeling “betrayed.”
On Jan. 24, 2006, Artest would be traded in exchange for Peja Stojaković after spending 23 games apart from Indy after his trade demand. The trade was a difficult process — some would relate it to pulling teeth — as Artest had no desire to play for the Kings, which led to a lengthy delay in the deal. Much of the basketball world was familiar with the framework of the on-again, off-again deal, which ended up hurting the relationship between Stojaković and the Kings for a short time.
Once Artest finally found himself in Sactown, however, things finally began to change. Despite showing up north of 270 pounds (according to Artest), and in a poor mental state, after a conversation with head coach Rick Adelman, he soon found himself back on track — as did the Kings.
Artest would average 18.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 3.6 assists, with the Kings over 167 total games.