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Lakers Go After Miami’s Sherman Douglas

The Lakers tendered an offer sheet to the Miami Heat’s holdout point guard, Sherman Douglas, the team announced Friday.

No figures were disclosed.

Laker Coach Mike Dunleavy, interviewed by a Miami radio station, would neither confirm nor deny a report that they had offered a seven-year deal worth $17 million.

Douglas and the Heat were discussing a salary in that annual range--$2.4 million--when negotiations broke down last summer.

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Neither Heat nor Laker officials could be reached for comment.

Douglas, a restricted free agent, has held out all season. Heat officials have insisted through their impasse that they would exercise their right of first refusal and match any offer.

However, with two highly rated young players, Steve Smith and Bimbo Coles, in Douglas’ place, the Heat is off to its best start. Miami players have suggested publicly that Smith is more unselfish than Douglas.

Heat management is said to be unhappy about the Laker offer, raising questions of whether Miami was running a bluff or will pay millions to retain a controversial player.

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Douglas, a No. 2 pick from Syracuse in 1989, averaged 18.5 points and 8.5 assists last season. He turned down a $2.3-million Heat offer before the season. The team withdrew the offer and negotiations have been deadlocked since.

Dunleavy told the Miami radio station he initially would use Douglas as a backup.

However, the Lakers have struggled on offense since Magic Johnson’s retirement. In Sacramento last week, Dunleavy said of starter Sedale Threatt: “I wish he was my backup. He’d be a great backup point guard.”

Said Dunleavy: "(Douglas) has the ability to penetrate and break people down. He has abilities that we don’t have now.”

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The Heat has two weeks to decide. If Miami matches, NBA rules prohibit a subsequent deal that would send Douglas here.


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