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Lakers Make It Tough for Heat to Match Offer Sheet to Douglas

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The fight for Sherman Douglas got down and dirty Saturday.

The Lakers, it was learned, have written three “poison pills” into their offer sheet to the Miami point guard that will be hard for the Heat to swallow.

Not only would Douglas get a $17-million, seven-year deal, the offer says:

--Douglas can become an unrestricted free agent after two seasons.

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--For one season, he has veto power over any trade.

--If traded, he gets another 15% of his remaining contract.

In Miami, Heat managing partner Lew Schaffel said the team, which had insisted it would match any offer, would take the full 15 days to decide.

Schaffel also painted Laker General Manager Jerry West as a recent convert to Douglas’ cause, raising a question of whether West had lied in the past.

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Schaffel also suggested the Lakers were signing Douglas only to trade him.

Meanwhile, Douglas lashed out at the Heat.

“I hope they won’t match,” Douglas said. “With the things they put me through, I can’t stay with them. My feeling is, I want definitely to be a Laker. I’m going to be very happy in L.A.”

At a news conference Saturday, Schaffel said only that the Heat will take the time to explore all opportunities.

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Because the Heat is happy with Steve Smith and Bimbo Coles, that could mean signing Douglas and trading him.

The Heat has to decide whether to sign Douglas under the terms of the Laker offer, with Douglas able to veto any trade and, if assenting to one, due $19.55 million rather than $17 million.

Said Schaffel: “There was some surprise that they were interested in Sherman. In an earlier period of time, Jerry West wasn’t a fan of Sherman. Whether he was truthful in that area, he’d have to answer that.”

West could not be reached for comment but released a statement: “Things change all the time in the NBA. Obviously, they changed a lot for us with Earvin Johnson’s situation.”

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A Laker spokesman said the team didn’t pursue Douglas until approached by his agents, Eric and Mark Fleischer, last week.

From his home in Westchester County, N.Y., Eric Fleischer confirmed the accuracy of the reported contract terms.

He also said that they had been approved by NBA general counsel Gary Bettman.

“I’m not certain what the Heat gains by waiting 15 days,” Fleischer said. “If they’re not going to match, all they’re doing is making Sherman sit around for 15 days. If they’re going to match, they’re wasting their own time.”

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