Ron Artest says he will definitely play for Cheshire Jets. But not until November. Which gives new coach John Lavery a headache.

The Los Angeles Lakers forward confirmed in an interview with the LA Times that he has agreed to a cut-price deal with the Northgate outfit, which MVP understands is around a league-average £1000 per month.

With the club promising to help the American star break into the world of TV and music in the United Kingdom, what odds that Artest will be popping up on Hollyoaks (which is filmed in the city) in the autumn time?

“I went on Jimmy Kimmel in my underwear, so, of course I would do a soap opera,” Artest told the Times.

“Hands down. When they told me I had the opportunity and asked if I wanted to do a soap opera, I said, ‘Of course, man.’ I’m not going to run away. When I was a kid, I wanted to be on TV. Why would I run away from being on TV?”

Although Artest – who acknowledged a rival approach from Glasgow Rocks – is scheduled to come to the UK later this month, when he is slated to hold a press conference in Chester, he has agreed to play in a series of exhibition games with Finnish side Loimaa in September.

Hence Lavery will have to begin the campaign one import short, or add a stop gap for the early stages of the BBL Trophy.

The big question of course is just why Artest, who has $21 million left on his current NBA contract, would want to come to the Northgate where the concrete floor and decaying locker rooms have long been the butt of BBL jokes.

It is, he put simply, an opportunity to play.

“It wasn’t about I want to make this amount of money or I want to another team because the Lakers are paying me only [this],” Artest added.

“If I go play somewhere, I have to enjoy it. If I’m not going to enjoy the game, I’m not going … Right now I’m really happy with the passion of the team. I’m really happy with the passion of the league. It’s not the best league in Europe. But it’s a league that has potential. I’m looking forward to being a part of a start.”

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