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Old 07-10-2003, 07:18 AM   #1
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Default Payton to sign with Lakers

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Gary Payton, in the words of his longtime agent Aaron Goodwin, has decided to "follow his dream."


The dream, in this case, is winning a championship, and Payton wants to chase that dream in Los Angeles alongside Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant.

Payton has verbally agreed to sign a free-agent contract with the Los Angeles Lakers on July 16, despite L.A.'s financial limitations, according to Goodwin.

As a team well over the NBA's salary cap, which is expected to fall between $40-42 million for next season, the Lakers are limited to offering Payton a starting salary of $4.9 million next season. It is believed Payton, who turns 35 on July 23, will sign a multiyear deal with the dethroned champions, who received word of Payton's plans just two days after the franchise and its fans were rocked by sexual-assault allegations against Bryant.

"He could have taken a lot more money to go somewhere else," Goodwin told ESPN.com Tuesday, referring to efforts by the Portland Trail Blazers to acquire Payton in a sign-and-trade with Milwaukee. "But he's going to Los Angeles to follow his dream."

The Lakers have been negotiating with Payton over the past several days, general manager Mitch Kupchak said Tuesday.

"It is the Lakers' intention to enter into a contract with Gary Payton once the moratorium period ends. Due to NBA rules regarding free agency I am unable to further comment at this time,'' Kupchak said in a statement.

The Blazers reportedly offered Milwaukee a package featuring Jeff McInnis and Arvydas Sabonis, which could have taken the starting salary of Payton's next contract into the $10-million range. But the lure of the Lakers -- described by Goodwin over the weekend as "absolutely" Payton's first choice -- prompted the nine-time All-Star to resist substantial overtures from Portland and Miami, according to Aldridge.

Milwaukee is thus left with no compensation for Payton, who came to the Bucks at the February trading deadline in a blockbuster trade with Seattle for Ray Allen. Payton spent the first 13 1/2 seasons of his career with the Sonics, then reunited briefly with Bucks coach George Karl until Milwaukee was eliminated by New Jersey in the first round of the playoffs.

Karl is the only prominent figure left from the Bucks team that reached the Eastern Conference Finals in 2001. Glenn Robinson was traded last summer, Allen was dealt away in February and Sam Cassell was traded to Minnesota the day after last month's NBA draft.

After lengthy negotiations with Michael Jordan, Bucks owner Sen. Herb Kohl elected to take the franchise off the market. Payton's departure significantly reduces the Bucks' payroll, but Milwaukee likely faces a long rebuilding process now, with only youngsters like Desmond Mason and Michael Redd for new general manager Larry Harris to build around.

For the Lakers, of course, the outlook is suddenly brighter, in the wake of the Bryant controversy and a tumultuous season in which L.A. started 11-19 and saw its run of three consecutive championships halted by a second-round playoff loss to San Antonio. Payton is precisely the sort of long-limbed, defensive-minded guard who can thrive in Jackson's system while helping to ease the scoring burden on O'Neal and Bryant.

The Lakers, furthermore, hope to secure a similar commitment Wednesday or Thursday from Utah's Karl Malone, who has indicated a willingness to accept a starting salary of $1.5 million in exchange for the chance to make it four future Hall of Famers in Jackson's starting lineup.
one almost down, one to go, might as well just realize that the NBA champ has already been decided next year.
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Old 07-10-2003, 10:04 AM   #2
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I disagree that the NBA champ has already been decided. There is too much that can happen between now and May next year that could throw a wrench in the Lakers are going to win the NBA title easily campaign.

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Old 07-10-2003, 12:07 PM   #3
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I agree with Joey. I don't think it's been decided, and it won't until the Finals.
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Old 07-10-2003, 05:43 PM   #4
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It has definitely been decided, no question about it. Payton, Kobe, Shaq, Malone...

Hello Champions.
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Old 07-10-2003, 07:11 PM   #5
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Barring extensive injuries, insurmountable group cohesion problems, the Spurs picking up Kidd AND another big free agent, ........ 2004 is the Return of the Lakers in grand Showtime style without a doubt.
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Old 07-12-2003, 11:56 PM   #6
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I unfortunately agree with Shawn here. No one can contend with four future HOFers ... period. The Spurs could of if they had landed a big FA, but they didn't -- and they lose Robinson. In fact, they only have six signed players right now.
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Old 07-13-2003, 12:28 AM   #7
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PJ Brown is back with the Hornets too now. Another miss for the Spurs and another bonus for the Lakers.
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Old 07-13-2003, 12:16 PM   #8
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It does appear to make them favorites, but I think there'll be problems.
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Old 07-13-2003, 01:30 PM   #9
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Problems can hurt the team as it did this season
-injuries, chamistry-

but now with four role players capable of taking the game over- maybe not Karl- the lakers won't look like fishes on the sand when kobe or shaq is on the bench or injured. Payton and Karl are big dogs and wont be afraid to shoot the ball when it is needed and won't just stand there looking at KB doing his thing all game long

As for chamistry don't forget how much the glove and the mail man are being payed, it ain't about egoes no more
Phil Jackons hasn't won 9 rings as a coach by mistake he is an imposing figure and maybe one of the top 5 coachs in history he will be in charge and bring the trophy back to LA

Plus fisher now on the bench with a promising Rush, Mark Madsen and Brian Cook who will grow rapidly next to the Mail man, the lakers have an even better bench tha last year

just face it the Lakers are da Bomb Diggidy
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