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McKie, Anderson Get Offers

Times Staff Writer

The Lakers have effectively made similar offers of $2.5 million to guards Aaron McKie and Derek Anderson, sources said, with the understanding that the first one who accepts gets it.

The sources say the Lakers have couched it in diplomatic terms as having had “financial discussions” with both players. Those conversations make the Lakers the high bidder for both players and the only team in the running with a starting job open. Nevertheless, the team will have to wait out the weekend to see if either will come.

Laker General Manager Mitch Kupchak had no comment Friday, saying only the team is continuing to explore its options.

Anderson is said to be making up his mind between the Lakers and Houston, which can offer only $1.7 million. However, Anderson visited the Rockets on Thursday, met with Coach Jeff Van Gundy and told the Houston Chronicle, “I think it went real well.”

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“They were real upfront and honest with me, and that’s what I wanted,” Anderson added.

A source said Anderson is leaning toward the Rockets but will take the weekend to decide.

McKie was thought to be close to agreement with New Jersey until the Lakers became involved last week. McKie is a Philadelphia native, which would make staying on the East Coast attractive.

However, having used or promised their exceptions to Jeff McInnis and Robert Traylor, the Nets have been offering McKie only the veteran’s minimum of $1.1 million.

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Under a formula that allows amnestied players to “double dip,” getting their old salaries plus some of the money from their new teams, McKie would keep $900,000 of his salary from the Nets.

In comparison, McKie would keep $1.6 million from the Lakers. In either case, he would also get $6.5 million from his old team, the 76ers.

Also, the Lakers would give McKie or Anderson a chance to start at point guard. They are being projected as reserves in Houston and New Jersey.

The Lakers have been limited in what they can offer by owner Jerry Buss’ insistence on saving cap space for the summer of 2007, which means they can offer only two-year deals.

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They offered the entire $5-million exception to Antonio Daniels but lost him when Washington offered him that much, but on a five-year deal.

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Ronny Turiaf has lost 25 pounds, but he hasn’t lost his desire to play for the Lakers in 2006-07.

“I’m going to play basketball again. My heart is fixed,” Turiaf said at Gonzaga University. The news conference at Turiaf’s alma mater marked his first public appearance since he underwent open-heart surgery July 26.

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Turiaf, the Lakers’ second-round draft pick in June, had his contract voided when he failed a team physical because of an enlarged aortic valve. Doctors told Turiaf from the outset that he would miss at least one season, but Turiaf said he hopes to practice with the Lakers at some point in 2005-06.

“I can now ride the [stationary] bike 10 or 15 minutes, and I can dribble the ball on the court,” Turiaf said. “My heart rate goes up pretty fast. I can’t sprint [when dribbling], but I’m moving faster than a walk.”

Turiaf said the Lakers paid for his operation, and his rehabilitation and living expenses are covered through Gonzaga by an NCAA-approved plan for major financial needs.

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Correspondent Howie Stalwick contributed to this report from Spokane, Wash.


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