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LAKERS REPORT

Radmanovic Slowed by Injury

October 16, 2006|Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

LAS VEGAS — The Lakers pelted Vladimir Radmanovic in the first hour of the free-agent negotiating period, sending a full-court phone press with Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson making calls to woo the lanky 6-foot-10 forward with the smooth stroke.

The Lakers got their guy, signing him to a five-year, $31-million contract in August, the shooter they wanted in Jackson's triangle offense.

His defense and rebounding have been surprisingly strong in practice, but his shooting has been off the mark as he battles a hand injury.

Radmanovic holds a Lakers' opponent record with eight three-pointers in a January 2005 game with Seattle, but he has made only four of 20 shots and is averaging five points in three exhibitions.

"I don't really worry about my shot right now," said Radmanovic, who extends his left hand for handshakes because of the soreness of the right hand. "It's stayed pretty bad so I'm not able to take the shot the way I want it. Nothing I can do about it. It's starting to heal, and hopefully it's going to be soon."

Radmanovic has strained ligaments between the pinkie and ring finger of his right hand, an injury he suffered last week when he was swatted while going up for a shot during pregame warmups.

"It was one of the coaches," Radmanovic said. "I won't say who, but his name's Brian Shaw."

In the meantime, he has had to impress Lakers coaches in other ways.

Radmanovic, 25, has career averages of 10.1 points and 38.1% shooting from three-point range, but only 4.6 rebounds, a stat the Lakers hope he improves this season.

"He's a lot better defensive player and rebounder than I think I gave him credit for," assistant coach Kurt Rambis said. "He's much more aggressive defensively. He does a good job rebounding the basketball. He's got a nice nose for the ball rebounding-wise."

Radmanovic, however, has sometimes been caught free-lancing instead of staying within the confines of the triangle offense.

"Right now, he seems to be struggling with trying to play within his basketball instincts and play within the system that we're going to be working under, and there's some conflict there," Rambis said. "But I know he's going to get better. His hand is obviously a problem. I had that injury when I was a player. It's extremely painful. It's something he's going to have to deal with because they're slow-healing injuries."

Radmanovic will get plenty of game time to work on his offense. He is expected to start for the Lakers, a key part of his choice to leave behind an identical contract offer last August from the Clippers. Radmanovic wanted more playing time, and the Clippers couldn't guarantee it with Corey Maggette in the fold.

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Smush Parker made five of six three-pointers and had 18 points but the Lakers lost to Phoenix, 99-91, in an exhibition Sunday.

Shammond Williams and Luke Walton each had 12 points for the Lakers.

Bryant made the three-day trip with the team but did not play Sunday and is not expected to play Tuesday.

Chris Mihm (ankle), Kwame Brown (shoulder) and Sasha Vujacic (foot) did not play Sunday.

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mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

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