Ex-Laker Cooper Considers Italy Offer

Times Staff Writer

Michael Cooper, the free-agent guard who is upset over an impasse in contract negotiations with the Lakers, is apparently considering an offer from an Italian team.

According to Fred Slaughter, his agent, Cooper received a one-year offer to play in Italy for $200,000.

He was paid $366,000 last season by the Lakers after earning $336,000 in 1984-85 and $306,000 in 1982-83.

The Lakers have reportedly offered Cooper a five-year deal for more money than he made last season, but Cooper doesn’t like it because only the first two years of the contract are guaranteed. The Lakers have said repeatedly that they will match any offer sheet Cooper receives. He hasn’t gotten any offers.


Slaughter said he is seeking a contract for Cooper similar to Dennis Johnson’s with the Boston Celtics. Johnson will earn $782,000 this season and $832,500 in each of the following two seasons.

Slaughter said he met with Laker General Manager Jerry West Wednesday.

“Basically, there has been little negotiation,” Slaughter said. “They always come back to the same position. There has been absolutely no movement since last fall.”

Cooper, 30, has played on three NBA championship teams. He was named to the NBA all-defensive team in 1982, 1984 and 1985 and he made the all-defensive second team in 1981, 1983 and 1986.

Asked about Cooper’s Italian offer, West said, “I don’t know anything about the specifics of it. I met with Fred this morning, and we changed our offer a little bit.

“The real sticking point is that he wants the whole contract guaranteed and Dr. (Jerry) Buss’ position is not to do that. Jerry has been very fair with Michael in the past. I hope we will get this resolved.”

West also downplayed a report in the Orange County Register, which quoted Cooper as saying that he no longer wants to play for the Lakers. “Michael’s a very emotional person,” West said. “He’s been trying to get an offer sheet from another team and I think this is something he’s frustrated with.”