Published reports would have us believe the mooted Corey Maggette / Ron Artest trade is far from certain, and accordingly, the Sacramento Bee’s Sam Amick quizzed Kings GM Geoff Petrie about the Tru Warier’s state of mind.

“His happiness level is fine,” Petrie said before the Kings faced Philadelphia on Wednesday night at Arco Arena. “He has a very large performance bank account. A lot of people have forgotten what it was like around here before he got here.

“I guess you could sum (the trade talk) up this way. It’s a lot of noise, mostly white noise, like when a hen oodles — wow, lays an egg — and it makes a sound like it made a meteor.”

Asked about Artest’s locker room impact and any potential influence on teammates, Petrie said: “He has some esoteric qualities. A lot of people do.”

As for whether Artest has approached management with a desire to be traded, Petrie would only say, “That’s a hypothetical question that you’re going to have to save.”

Though the Journal News’ Mike Doughtery isn’t willing to proclaim the Knicks “a legitimate contender outside a pedestrian Atlantic Division,” he insists that last night’s triple OT defeat of the Pistons “ranks among the best I™ve ever witnessed.” But most crucially, he’s got the scoop on Stevie Franchise’s unexcused absence from practice the other day.

Fog is the official reason Steve Francis gave after missing practice on Tuesday, or so he would have you believe. Want to know the actual reason? Francis got an electronic Deal or No Deal setup for Christmas and was busy pushing buttons in the locker room prior to the Detroit game. œI™ve been playing this thing for two days straight, he said. And now we know.

I’ve got some truly scary sports swag in my wardrobe, but I’ve got to give it up to Doug Moe, owner of an Albany Patroons cap. Speaking of which, if you’re wondering what Felipe Lopez is up to, he’s currently playing for Albany’s CBA entry.