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Lakers Look to Own Team in D-League

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

The Lakers are on the verge of becoming the first NBA franchise to own a team in the NBA Development League, with the possibility that minor league games could precede some Laker home games next season at Staples Center.

Ownership would let the Lakers control who coaches and who plays on their minor league team, much as a Major League Baseball team controls personnel on its minor league affiliates. D-League teams select their coaches and players, with NBA franchises given the option to send first- or second-year players to a designated D-League team.

The Lakers have received tentative approval from the NBA Board of Governors, D-League President Phil Evans said Tuesday. NBA Commissioner David Stern said he anticipated the announcement of a Los Angeles team at next week’s owners’ meetings.

The D-League season starts in November. For its first season, Evans said, the Laker affiliate probably would play its 25 home games at Staples Center, preceding Laker games.

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“Beyond that, they would be looking to move into another facility,” he said.

With the D-League establishing a California core, one option could be Ontario. Dana Warg, AEG senior vice president, said an arena there is scheduled to open in 2008 and would be suitable for a D-League team.

At a news conference in Anaheim, Evans announced that a D-League expansion team would play in the Anaheim Convention Center arena and receive players from the Clippers. The first game is tentatively scheduled Nov. 25, against the new Los Angeles team.

Roy Englebrecht, part of a six-member Anaheim ownership group that paid the $300,000 franchise fee, said the team’s nickname and coach have not been decided.

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The city of Anaheim can terminate the lease of the D-League team at the request of an NBA franchise moving into the Arrowhead Pond. Stern, speaking on a conference call, said the D-League’s presence in Anaheim would not hamper the city’s pursuit of an NBA franchise.

“The D-League will give people in Orange County an opportunity to express their support for the sport of basketball,” Stern said. “It can only be positive. There’s no negative impact whatsoever.”

-- Bill Shaikin

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Houston Rocket center Yao Ming will have surgery this weekend on his broken left foot and the injury could take four to six months to heal, General Manager Carroll Dawson said.

Yao was hurt in Monday’s loss to Utah.

An MRI exam showed a crack in the fifth metatarsal bone of the foot, Dawson said.

“It can be fixed two ways,” Dawson said. “You could just put a cast on it, but it takes forever. The thing most people do is have the surgery.”

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Since the All-Star break, Yao had averaged 26.6 points and 12 rebounds.

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NBA playoff rosters will expand to 13 this season, with teams deactivating one player before each game.

This will be the first time teams will be allowed to make changes during the playoffs. In the past, they had to stick with the same 12-man roster.

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New Jersey Net forward Richard Jefferson was fined $5,000 by the NBA for kicking a ball into the stands during the second quarter of Sunday’s victory over Milwaukee.

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Adidas signed an 11-year deal with the NBA, making the German athletic shoe company the league’s official uniform and apparel provider starting with the 2006-07 season.

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Financial terms were not disclosed.

Adidas, a marketing partner with the NBA since 2002, said the deal resulted from last year’s acquisition of Reebok, which had been the NBA’s uniform and apparel provider since 2001.


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