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LAKER REPORT

Buss Working on Ways to Keep Jackson Around

October 30, 2002|Tim Brown | Times Staff Writer

Coach Phil Jackson, who has two years left on his contract, said Tuesday night that he probably would not consider an extension until after the season.

He did, however, seem open to a negotiation first broached by owner Jerry Buss over the summer.

According to Jackson, Buss told Jackson he hoped he was comfortable enough to come to him when he felt the time was right to enter into negotiations.

"I want to finish this year, and then we'll talk," Jackson said he responded.

Jackson's contract is for $30 million over five years, the first three seasons bringing NBA championships back to an organization otherwise waiting for Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant to mesh.

Jackson has prospered in Los Angeles. He found career satisfaction with the Lakers, standing on the brink of passing Red Auerbach for the most coaching titles. Both have nine. And Jackson is romantically involved with Jeanie Buss, the owner's daughter.

"I would think Phil would want to continue for a while, but that's just a hunch," Buss said. "You know, I have lunch with him, I have dinner with him and when the subject comes up we kind of drop it and don't discuss it. But, if you're asking me what my guess is, I'd have to feel he'd be interested in an extension.

"There has been no discussion. I had mentioned it to him that at some time we should sit down and discuss that and he said, 'That would be a good idea.' That's very non-committal, as you can see. I'm going to redecorate my den, put a few Indian artifacts around. I can do my homework too."

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The Lakers did not exercise the option on Mark Madsen's contract, meaning he will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

Madsen was due to make $1.5 million next season.

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O'Neal said his foot and toe responded well to his first day of light running, and that he expected to increase the intensity of his workouts.

He also is optimistic that a new shoe and orthotic device designed to ease the pain beneath his toe would hasten his recovery. On the injured list, O'Neal is not eligible to play in the Lakers' first five games.

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TONIGHT

at Portland

6:30, Ch. 9, ESPN

Site -- Rose Garden

Radio -- KLAC(570), KWKW (1330)

Records: Lakers 0-1, Trail Blazers 0-0.

Record vs. Trail Blazers (2001-02) -- 2-2.

Update -- The Trail Blazers remain the Western Conference's enigma, heavy on talent and light on the sense to make it all fit. The Lakers have eliminated them from three consecutive postseasons, the last two years by first-round sweeps. So, the Trail Blazers talked Arvydas Sabonis out of retirement and added Antonio Daniels and Jeff McInnis, but at a massive price. Portland's payroll is an astonishing $104.6 million, an NBA record.

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