INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Ron Artest wants to be traded, and the Indiana Pacers will try to accommodate their unhappy star.

Artest, suspended most of last season for his role in one of the worst brawls in American sports, said over the weekend that he wants out, his past haunts him in Indianapolis and the team would be better off without him.

Pacers president and chief executive Donnie Walsh said Monday he didn’t like Artest speaking to the media first, but would try to trade him. He added Artest’s desire to move on wasn’t the only factor involved.

“This is kind of the last straw of a lot of issues,” Walsh said, “and it’s at the point where we should look for a trade.”

Artest, out the past two games with sore right wrist, remains on the roster but is inactive with pay for the rest of the week, Walsh said. After his suspension by the NBA for triggering a brawl with fans in Detroit, Artest missed 73 games and the playoffs.

Jermaine O’Neal, the Pacers’ leading scorer, said it’s time to move forward.

“I’m not going to answer any more questions about Ron Artest,” he said. “Ron doesn’t want to be here, so Ron doesn’t matter anymore.”

Artest leads the league in steals and is the Pacers’ second-leading scorer at 19.4 points a game. The Pacers (12-7) have the second-best record in the Eastern Conference. They beat Washington and Memphis without Artest.

“This is about us winning two straight games,” O’Neal said. “You guys got any questions about us winning two straight games? You got any questions about us having the second-best record in the Eastern Conference, even though we’ve struggled?”

Stephen Jackson still calls Artest a friend and said the team will miss his play.

“Ron’s an All-Star,” Jackson said. “It’s definitely going to hurt us not to have him here, but we’ve got games to play. We can’t dwell on who’s here, who’s not here.”

Artest was not available for comment at Monday’s practice.

“We have a good roster with good players on the roster,” Walsh said. “I think they’ll appreciate not having this in the middle of their season.”

In an interview with The Indianapolis Star published Sunday, Artest said, “I still think my past haunts me here. I think somewhere else I’m starting fresh. I’m coming in with baggage, but people already know about it and how I’m going to be.”

AP-ES-12-12-05 1520EST

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