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Lakers' Camp Opens on Sour Note : Failure to Acquire Timberwolves' Mahorn Upsets West

October 07, 1989|SAM McMANIS | Times Staff Writer

HONOLULU — The bags under Jerry West's eyes were more pronounced than usual Friday morning, the result of a late-night negotiating session during which the Laker general manager tried one last time before the start of training camp to acquire the power forward he wants.

Although West would not identify the player or team involved in the talks on the eve of the club's first practice, Rick Mahorn of the Minnesota Timberwolves has long been the object of West's attention.

But Friday morning came and went, and the Lakers signed starting power forward A.C. Green to a four-year contract reportedly worth $6 million. That put the Lakers over the salary-cap limit, which means they will be unable to trade for Mahorn or any other player without giving up a player of equal monetary value.

It is believed that the Lakers offered two first-round draft choices, a second-round pick and a player--either center Mychal Thompson or Mark McNamara--for Mahorn, a tough, defensive-minded and, some say, thuggish forward.

West talked only in generalities during the Lakers' first practice at the University of Hawaii. But he was clearly exasperated at not getting his man. "This was the year that was the most personally frustrating for me because we wanted this player very badly," West said. "I spent three months on the phone, including last night. We made an offer to a team that I simply can't believe they'd turn down. We gave that team a chance to build something.

"This player conceivably could have been a starter for us. We were willing to take a gamble. But this morning was the deadline, and I don't feel good about it. As far as I know, the deal is very dead. We don't have the money for this player.

"There's no way we'd trade one of our younger players for this player. They never asked for that, and we never offered."

The Lakers' salary-cap restraints do not preclude their pursuing other trades, but West said the team now probably will wait until close to the season opener.

"What we'd really like to do is go through training camp before deciding," West said. "It might be fun to have younger players--until May (playoff-time)."

Earlier this week, the negotiations with Green were put on hold because of an unusual contract demand that neither West nor Green would divulge. Green, however, said the request had nothing to do with salary.

Green will earn slightly more than $1.3 million this season. He earned $269,000 last season. Green benefited from the recent increase in player salaries. Jon Koncak, the Atlanta Hawks' backup forward, started the upsurge by signing an offer sheet from Detroit for $2.3 million, which the Hawks matched.

Green, who plans to become a minister after finishing his basketball career, said he will donate at least 10% of his salary to his church. Laker Notes

Quintin Dailey's problems continue. The newly signed Laker guard, who missed a team meeting Thursday night, left the first practice Friday morning after barely an hour, complaining of stomach pains and dizziness. Before the morning workout, Dailey said he had missed his flight from Los Angeles Thursday to attend to his wife, who, he said, is having complications during pregnancy. "I was worried about her," Dailey said.

Laker Coach Pat Riley called the first practice "shoddy." He said several players were out of shape, among them Dailey and guard Larry Drew, another former Clipper. Drew missed part of practice with cramps in both of his calves but later returned. "This was the first time in training camp history we ever lost two guys in one run (up the court)," Riley said. . . . Magic Johnson said his left hamstring injury has healed, and he left reporters with an intriguing aside: "When it's all over and done, I'm going to buy this team," he said. "I'll let you know in November."

Byron Scott's left hamstring, which he also hurt last June, is not totally healed. Said Scott: "It felt good. The only thing is, it got a little tight after a while. I should be all right." . . . Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, fulfilling his 20-day contract obligation as a special assistant coach, spent most of his first day watching from the sidelines, although he also threw up a few sky hooks alone at a corner basket.

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