Don’t look for late-season pickups from the Lakers
The Lakers are entering the final, minor phase of roster retooling, taking a look at who was waived in recent days and determining if they could help thicken their bench.
Former San Antonio forward-guard Michael Finley might want to come to Los Angeles, but the Lakers have no interest in a player who turns 37 on Saturday and was averaging 3.7 points in 25 games with the Spurs this season.
Power forward Kenny Thomas was cut by Sacramento last month and, while providing solid post defense, would be in a numbers crunch on the Lakers bench, parked behind Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and even Josh Powell.
Center Zydrunas Ilgauskas was bought out by Washington but probably will likely rejoin his former team in Cleveland by the end of the month.
There are other players who have been waived or bought out in recent weeks — Houston forward Brian Cook, Minnesota center Mark Blount, Washington guard Mike James and New York guard Larry Hughes — but the Lakers are leaning against adding a player.
“We’ve already discussed it,” General Manager Mitch Kupchak said. “It’s unlikely that we would sign a player that has recently been waived, although we’ll continue to monitor the team’s needs.”
The Lakers are playing without two reserves, guard Sasha Vujacic and forward Luke Walton, though Vujacic could be back early next week from a sprained shoulder. Walton is hoping to return in time for the playoffs after suffering another setback with a pinched nerve in his back.
The Lakers could sign any of the above players before the regular season ends and still use them in playoff games, according to an NBA spokesman.
A Sports Illustrated poll of 173 NBA players called Lakers forward Ron Artest the second dirtiest player in the league, behind only Toronto forward Reggie Evans.
When told about it, Artest paused and thought about the question before he answered.
“I’m just aggressive,” he said. “I don’t know. I guess when I hit people, yeah, they feel it. But I don’t think I’m dirty. I just think I just use my body.”
Well, Artest was told, he doesn’t really hit people.
“It’s like a hit,” Artest responded. “But it’s not really a hit.”
Artest received 13% of the vote while Evans received 21%.
Kobe Bryant also made the list, finishing fifth with 4% of the vote. Sacramento forward Andres Nocioni was third with 6% and Cleveland forward-center Anderson Varejao was fourth with 5%.
Not always rivals
In a quiet moment after the Lakers’ victory Sunday against Denver, Phil Jackson and Nuggets Coach George Karl spoke in the doorway of the Lakers’ locker room.
Jackson wished him well in his recovery from throat and neck cancer.
“Thank you,” Karl said simply as the coaches shook hands.
Jackson coached Karl’s son, Coby, with the Lakers in 2007-08.
Times staff writer Broderick Turner contributed to this report.