INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ Ron Artest and the Indiana Pacers are about to part company _ finally.

A trade that would send the volatile star forward to the Sacramento Kings for forward Peja Stojakovic was imminent Tuesday, according to media reports.

The deal would end a lengthy standoff between the Pacers and Artest, who was deactivated in December after requesting a trade and was suspended most of last season for his role in one of the worst brawls in U.S. sports history.

Sacramento officials and coach Rick Adelman would not comment on the deal before the team played at Philadelphia on Tuesday night, and Stojakovic was not at the arena with the team.

The Kings' players were already talking about the trade as if it was a done deal.

``Peja will be missed,'' Kings forward Corliss Williamson said. ``He's been in Sacramento for a lot of years, but life goes on in the NBA.

``We'll welcome Ron Artest with open arms and hope he'll be able to help us. You always hear about the situations he's been in and all the hype. Maybe this is the change he needs, to come into our system and flourish.''

Indiana spent several weeks searching for the right deal, nearly sending Artest to the Los Angeles Clippers for Corey Maggette before reviving talks with the Kings in recent days.

This trade, reported Tuesday on and The Indianapolis Star's Web site, has been long rumored, with the Kings thought to need Artest's defense just as much as the Pacers could use Stojakovic's offense.

Artest's agent, Mark Stevens, would not confirm specifics of the trade, but told The Associated Press on Tuesday that a deal to move Artest ``is imminent, almost as soon as possible.''

Stevens told the Star the deal is awaiting league approval.

In Cleveland, where the Pacers were preparing to play the Cavaliers on Tuesday night, team spokesperson Krissy Myers said the club had no comment on the report.

Artest was a key component to a team that was expected to challenge for the Eastern Conference crown. He led the league in steals and was the Pacers' second-leading scorer at 19.4 points a game before being deactivated after publicly requesting a trade in early December.

In five years with the Pacers, Artest was an All-Star once and was the NBA's defensive player of the year in 2003-04.

Indiana president of basketball operations Larry Bird said there was ``no question'' that Maggette's sprained left foot affected a possible deal with the Clippers.

The Pacers, who were at Cleveland on Tuesday night, have lost four of their last five games.


AP Sports Writers Rob Maaddi in Philadelphia and Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report.