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LAKER NOTES

O'Neal Vents About Lack of Shaw Deal

October 06, 2000|TIM BROWN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Another Laker practice dragged by Thursday without a Brian Shaw sighting, which irritated Shaquille O'Neal to no end.

"I can't wait for B. Shaw to come back," O'Neal said. "I talked to Mitch [Kupchak]. I told Mitch I wanted him back. So, I don't know how all of this goes with the luxury tax and all that stuff, but I told him I wanted him back. If he doesn't come back I'll be highly [ticked] off."

Shaw drove from his home in Oakland to Los Angeles Thursday, a sign that he could be in camp soon. If in fact the Lakers stalled Shaw in hopes of giving Minnesota's Joe Smith their $2.25-million mid-level salary exception, the announcement that Smith's arbitration hearing would be held Oct. 16 probably foiled the tactic.

"All along we've made progress," said Kupchak, the general manager. "We want him here. I think we'll work it out. No one wants him to miss a week or two of camp. It's already been three days. So, I'm hoping for the next couple of days."

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Coach Phil Jackson has heard quite enough from Dallas Maverick owner Mark Cuban, who this week chided the Lakers for spending more like the Clippers and accused them of pocketing their profits at the expense of the team.

When he took on Jackson and owner Jerry Buss, Cuban not only overlooked a Laker payroll that is higher than the Mavericks' and much higher than the Clippers', but also the Lakers' NBA championship.

"I heard there was a lot of misinformation in that," Jackson said of Cuban's remarks. "Wasn't the truth that the Lakers are spending $14 million more than the Clippers? . . . He should keep his mouth shut."

It was a common theme at Laker camp. Buss, however, was forgiving of the spending habits of Cuban and Portland owner Paul Allen.

"These guys are new to the league," Buss said. "There's a tendency for the new kid on the block to try to buy his way to the top. But, thank God, the years go by and you mature."

Buss then chuckled at Cuban's comments.

"To me, I think he probably likes his players as well as he likes my players," Buss said. "And I think what he was saying, my interpretation of it was, that he's going to give them all the maximum [salary allowed] when their contracts come due."

A dollar-for-dollar luxury tax arrives in the NBA next season.

"I think all the owners are going to try to stay within that realm," Jackson said. "I think everybody agrees that it's a good basis to operate from. There'll be some mavericks out there, obviously, but that doesn't mean everybody else will join it."

That's Mavericks.

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It appears that Rick Fox will start in the frontcourt with O'Neal and power forward Horace Grant and that Kobe Bryant and Ron Harper will start at guard.

Jackson hopes it will allow Isaiah Rider time to learn the offense and the habits of his teammates.

Eventually, Rider could move into the shooting guard spot, allowing Bryant his place on the wing.

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O'Neal has taken a liking to rookie Mark Madsen, who already has impressed teammates and coaches with his spirit. It's a close call if Madsen will start the season in the regular rotation, but he has at least one vote.

"He plays hard," O'Neal said. "He doesn't back down. Anybody messes with Mad Dog, they're messing with me. He told me he wants to be my bodyguard. I like him. Working out with me every day? He's going to be a force to reckon with."

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