There was one thing Sasha Vujacic insisted that Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak keep out of his new three-year, $15-million contract with the team -- a haircut clause.
"It's not actually the hair that bothered me the most," Kupchak said at a news conference Monday. "It was that net, or whatever that is. The hair's OK actually."
Before Vujacic signed his contract, the restricted free-agent backup guard was prepared last week to play in Russia, unless the Lakers came up with an acceptable deal.
They did, and even though Vujacic, 24, said he could have signed a more lucrative deal in Russia, his No. 1 priority was to stay with the Lakers and help win the championship that eluded them this sea- son.
"My heart is in L.A. I wanted to stay in L.A.," Vujacic said. "It was my first option and I remained with it even though I had to turn that [other] deal down."
Kupchak said the prospect that Vujacic might head to Europe helped "jump-start" the negotiations with Vujacic and his agent Rob Pelinka.
"From our point of view, it kind of got to the point where it was moving a little bit slower than I think Sasha was comfortable with," Kupchak said.
Last season, his fourth with the Lakers, Vujacic shot 43.7% from three-point range and averaged a career-high 8.8 points in 17.8 minutes per game.
Signing Vujacic was a priority after the Lakers declined to match a four-year, $17-million contract Golden State gave to forward Ronny Turiaf, Kupchak said.
Vujacic, a native of Maribor, Slovenia, originally wanted a contract in the four- to six-year range, but said his new three-year deal will help drive his motivation to get a longer contract once this one ex- pires.
"I've heard the rumor that players who sign a contract tend to take the next year off and stay in the shadows," Vujacic said.
"I disagree with that. I think the way I am, being a gym rat, I want to be even better next year and there's no secret to anyone that I want to be the best shooter in the NBA."