Reporting from New Orleans
Even in the playoffs, the Lakers are starting to prepare for a possible lockout.
The team did not offer contracts next season to four of the five members of its training staff, the first of possibly many cost-cutting moves in the organization.
The collective-bargaining agreement expires June 30, and there has been no movement in negotiations between players and owners, forcing some teams to begin trimming expenses.
The Lakers couldn't guarantee that they would rehire the staff members if a lockout were to end earlier than expected. The Lakers informed the employees of their situation Saturday so they could begin making plans for their next job, as well as secure their own health insurance by July 1.
The four employees were on seasonal contracts. The Lakers declined to comment.
Other Lakers employees could ultimately be affected by the lockout, including those in ticket sales, business operations and scouting.
Chip Schaefer is the Lakers' director of athletic performance and has been with them since 1999, following Coach Phil Jackson from the Chicago Bulls.
Alex McKechnie has been the team's athletic performance coordinator since 2003.
Marko Yrjovuori has been the massage therapist since leaving the L.A. Kings to join the Lakers in 2003.
Longtime trainer Gary Vitti will return next season.
In addition to a new TV play-by-play announcer (Spero Dedes instead of Joel Meyers), there could be a major shake-up on the coaching staff. Jackson is not returning to the team, and his assistant coaches are on one-year contracts.
If assistant coach Brian Shaw gets promoted to head coach, there will be some continuity on the staff.
Lakers forward Derrick Caracter was arrested early Sunday morning in New Orleans after an alleged altercation near the team hotel, The Times has learned.
Caracter was charged with battery.
The rookie did not play Sunday in Game 4 and has been on the inactive list every game of the Lakers' first-round playoff series against New Orleans. He averaged two points and one rebound in 41 regular-season games.
New Orleans Coach Monty Williams has made a name for himself in the first round, moving to 2-2 in the postseason after the Hornets' 93-88 victory Sunday over the Lakers.
He also isn't afraid to be critical of the refereeing. He bemoaned the lack of three-second violations called on the Lakers coming into Game 4.
"You can put that on record," he said "It's been embarrassing that they've been able to stay in our paint on offense the way they have."