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LAKERS FYI

Lakers don't make any moves

Roster doesn't change. Phil Jackson is expecting help from Andrew Bynum.

March 04, 2009|Mike Bresnahan

The final phase of player movement in the NBA took place without the Lakers adding anyone else to their roster.

They inquired about the availability of free-agent forward Joe Smith, but the Cleveland Cavaliers reportedly agreed to terms with him Tuesday night. Smith was waived by Oklahoma City last week.

"We explored it and put in our two cents' worth," Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak said Tuesday.

Several players were waived before Sunday's deadline, allowing them to sign with other teams and still be eligible for the playoffs. Forward Drew Gooden is expected to sign with San Antonio, forward-center Stromile Swift will join Phoenix, and guard Luther Head will sign with Miami, according to various media reports.

Although the Lakers had discussions with representatives for Smith, a 14-year veteran, they weren't overly surprised when he opted for Cleveland, where he played part of last season.

"We like what we've got," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. "We don't want to change the chemistry. We've got such chemistry on this team. We can use a big guy, but we anticipate Andrew's going to be back and give us some help in the last month of the season."

Andrew Bynum could return from a torn knee ligament as early as March 30. The Lakers have gone 13-3 in his absence, including the Jan. 31 game in which he was injured.

Return of the bench

The Lakers' reserves had been stumbling since getting outscored last Friday by the Denver Nuggets' backups, 47-7.

"My fear is that they're relying too much on threes . . . instead of penetration," Jackson said before Tuesday's game against Memphis. "They've been great at running and pressing, trapping and stealing, that kind of stuff. People are now kind of adjusting to who they are and so we've got to have a better effort from them on the floor."

The Lakers' reserves outscored their Memphis counterparts, 32-18.

The West mess

The Lakers haven't fared too well on the road recently, but it could be worse.

They are still ahead of Boston and Cleveland for the league's best record, and they have an eight-game lead in the Western Conference over second-place San Antonio.

It gets murky from there for the rest of the West.

In fact, only 6 1/2 games separate the Spurs from the ninth-place Phoenix Suns in what looks to be a tight race for the conference's seven playoff spots after the Lakers.

"Without a doubt, we couldn't have asked to be in a better position," Jackson said. "We're very happy with it."

Mihm surgery

Chris Mihm's new team was in town Tuesday, but the former Lakers center wasn't with Memphis.

Mihm underwent surgery on his right ankle Tuesday in Baltimore, the third time in three years he has had an operation on the ankle.

"I was totally surprised by that," Jackson said. "I just know he was getting back to where he was close to playing at the level he left the game at. He never really got it back all the way. It's a disappointment for him."

Mihm was sent to the Grizzlies two weeks ago for a conditional second-round pick in 2013.

Etc.

The Lakers wore "Los Lakers" jerseys against Memphis as part of the league's "Noche Latina" event that recognized NBA fans and players from Latin America and U.S. Latino communities.

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mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

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