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With eye toward free agency, new Rocket Artest switches agents

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Amid word of his trade to the Houston Rockets comes more news regarding Ron Artest's future: He has hired David Bauman to be his agent.

Bauman said he received the signed agent papers from Artest on Thursday morning. ''I look forward to working with Ron,'' said Bauman, who will be seeking a lucrative contract for Artest when he becomes a free agent in 2009.

Bauman replaces Mark Stevens, who was criticized by Artest and others in the league for being inexperienced in NBA matters. That won't be an issue for Bauman, who has procured current long-term deals for Andrew Bogut, Peja Stojakovic and Vladimir Radmanovic.

The goal for Artest will be to raise his value during a run at the championship this season in Houston with Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady. His decision to hire Bauman demonstrates Artest's newfound understanding that he will also need an experienced hand working behind the scenes to land him a long-term contract with a good franchise.