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Lakers playing the waiting game

Times Staff Writer

The Lakers continue to take part in a slow-speed chase, waiting to see whether Sasha Vujacic and Ronny Turiaf receive offers from other teams that would price the restricted free agents out of the Lakers’ comfort zone.

Last week, the Lakers made one-year qualifying offers to Vujacic for $2.6 million and Turiaf for $1 million, though both players are seeking longer-term deals worth more money. They are each trying to bring a signed offer sheet from another team to the Lakers, who will then have seven days to match.

The Lakers paid almost $5 million in luxury taxes last season and currently have a payroll of $75.1 million for 10 players with guaranteed contracts next season, already putting them on pace to pay more luxury taxes next season. The exact dollar figure for the luxury-tax threshold for 2008-09 will soon be announced by the league.

The Lakers are interested in retaining Vujacic but have not offered him more than $5 million a season. Free agents such as Vujacic typically hope to receive a team’s mid-level exception for about $6 million a season, though the 24-year-old has not signed an offer sheet yet. Turiaf, 25, is expected to receive less money than Vujacic.

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The Lakers are also hoping to sign Sun Yue, a second-round pick from last year who will play on the Chinese national team this summer. They are somewhat interested in bringing back unrestricted free-agent center DJ Mbenga at a low cost. Unrestricted free agent Ira Newble will not return.

The Lakers must also determine over the next few months whether to exercise a one-year, $712,000 team option on Coby Karl. Joe Crawford, the team’s second-round pick out of Kentucky, does not have a guaranteed contract but could also make the team at an inexpensive price. Both players will be on the Lakers’ summer-league team, which begins a six-game schedule Friday in Las Vegas.

Several free agents around the league have agreed to terms with teams, though Wednesday is the first day such signings can be formally announced.

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mike.bresnahan@latimes.com


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