Lakers’ first concern: signing Derek Fisher
Across the NBA landscape, news conferences are being assembled and lavish parties planned as the big-name free agents (finally) publicize their decisions.
But in El Segundo, the Lakers quietly wait for one name: Derek Fisher.
The weeklong free-agent moratorium ended Wednesday night, meaning NBA teams could officially sign players to contracts, which the Lakers will do with Steve Blake, giving them exactly one ballhandling guard on their roster.
Their next priority is to sign Fisher, and then Shannon Brown, more or less keeping their backcourt intact from last season, with Jordan Farmar the obvious omission.
Fisher, who turns 36 next month, wants at least a two-year contract worth $10 million. The Lakers are open to a two-year deal, though it will need to be several million below Fisher’s asking price.
The negotiations hadn’t taken on the laborious tone of the monthlong talks the Lakers endured with Lamar Odom last July, but the prevailing mind-set was that a deal would be done with Fisher by the end of the first week of free agency.
But Fisher returned Wednesday afternoon from a trip to China without a contract agreement.
Meanwhile, Brown, 24, opted out of a contract that would have paid him $2.15 million next season, but he has not drawn intense interest elsewhere, perhaps because he averaged only 4.9 points and shot 39.3% in the playoffs.
The Lakers are somewhat interested in bringing him back, but Fisher is their first concern.
If Fisher does not return, Blake, 30, will move into the starting lineup after agreeing to terms on a four-year, $16-million contract.
The Lakers are well over the salary cap and have $1.77 million of the midlevel exception left toward next season to spend on a free agent that is not their own, or they could try to sign free agents for the veteran’s minimum salary, which ranges from $762,000 to $1.35 million.
The salary-cap figures released Wednesday by the NBA for the 2010-11 season have very little impact on the Lakers, who are already way over a cap that was increased from last season’s $57.7 million to $58.04 million.
There was similarly slight movement in the luxury-tax threshold, from $69.9 million to $70.3 million, meaning the Lakers and all teams over the threshold can expect a slight break in penalties. The Lakers had the NBA’s highest payroll last season ($91.3 million) and also paid $21.4 million in luxury taxes.
Free-agent guard Javaris Crittenton is not on the Lakers’ summer-league roster because he is still recovering from foot surgery. Crittenton was originally drafted by the Lakers in 2007 and could be an inexpensive backcourt option…. The Phoenix Suns plan on talking to Lakers assistant general manager Ronnie Lester this weekend about their vacant general manager position…. The Lakers will use the Bakersfield Jam as their Development League affiliate next season.
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