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Lakers to Announce Signing Today of Free Agent Orlando Woolridge

August 10, 1988|GORDON EDES | Times Staff Writer

No, Magic Johnson isn't going to Edmonton as part of the Gretzky deal. But the Forum's other tenants made a deal Tuesday, too.

The Lakers have called a press conference for this morning to announce they have signed free agent Orlando Woolridge, a 6-foot 9-inch forward, to a contract for the 1988-89 season, according to a team source. It is believed that Woolridge, 28, agreed to a deal that will pay him close to $500,000, which is about the maximum the Lakers were allowed under salary-cap restrictions.

Much of that money became available when Kurt Rambis signed as a free agent with the expansion Charlotte Hornets last month.

Woolridge, a seven-year veteran who has played with the Chicago Bulls and New Jersey Nets, was with the Nets until he was suspended last February for drug-related problems. He subsequently enrolled in a drug rehabilitation clinic in Van Nuys and has undergone follow-up treatment for the past six months. He was paid $1.2 million by the Nets last season.

In Woolridge, the Lakers are getting a proven scorer off the bench, as well as insurance in the event James Worthy's knees continue to be a problem. Woolridge's best season was 1984-85 with the Bulls, when he averaged 22.9 points a game.

General Manager Jerry West would not confirm Woolridge's signing, but he said Tuesday night: "We're pleased. We're hopeful this will give us another player who will give us help.

"We had three things we wanted to do (in the off-season), and two of them are accomplished."

Those three things, in no particular order, were to acquire another ballhandling guard, which they did in drafting David Rivers; pick up some scoring off the bench (Woolridge), and find another big man, an unresolved issue.

"If possible, we'd like to think we can get that accomplished," West said.

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