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LAKERS FYI

Lakers owner Jerry Buss cautiously optimistic on labor front

Buss says he recognizes the potential for collective-bargaining trouble in the summer of 2011 but is hopeful that the NBA and its players can get a deal done.

November 23, 2009|By Broderick Turner

Lakers owner Jerry Buss didn't want to predict the future for the NBA regarding its labor issues, but he knows the summer of 2011 has the potential for problems.

NBA owners can opt out of the current collective bargaining agreement that summer and bring the players back to the bargaining table.

The talk has been that the owners want "give-backs" from the players.

When the owners locked the players out during the 1998-99 season, the schedule didn't start until February and included just 50 games.

Buss, who answered questions from the media before Sunday night's game against Oklahoma City at Staples Center, said he is hopeful that things will get resolved.

"Obviously the intent is to avoid any kind of conflict, somehow to get everybody happy," Buss said. "But at the end of every [collective bargaining] contract, it's been kind of difficult to get the next one signed. I'm hoping that [NBA Commissioner David] Stern can do it again."

Buss fine with international play

Some NBA team owners have been against international players competing for their countries during the summer, many owners afraid the player they are paying might get injured.

With Pau Gasol playing for the Spain the last two summers, Buss said it did concern him. But he also said it would be "selfish" of him to stop Gasol from playing.

Even though Gasol suffered a broken finger on his left hand during practice with the Spanish national team and had to have surgery before he played in the European championships, Buss was not among the owners advocating that international players be prevented from play during the summer.

Even though Gasol, after playing for Spain in the summer, suffered a strained right hamstring during training camp that kept him out of the Lakers' first 11 regular-season games, Buss said he wouldn't stop Gasol from representing his country.

"If he wants to represent Spain, I think he's entitled to that," Buss said. "It would be nice if there was more time in between [the European championships and the start of NBA camps] so that he wasn't overworked. . . . But I think there's room for all kinds of basketball internationally."

Artest still learning

Thirteen games into the season, Ron Artest still is finding his way in the triangle offense.

It's not that Artest doesn't know where he belongs or where to go.

It's just that he still doesn't know all the nuances.

"It'll take him a while to just know those reactive things that are unique to Kobe [Bryant], [Derek] Fisher, guys that know how to react to each other in a way that sets them in the offensive position or the right space or the right place," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said.

"As far as recognizing, he's doing a really good job. He wants to pass the ball. Those are things that are really important in our offense."

Jackson endorses transition

When told that some members of the media had a sit-down with Buss before the game, Jackson smiled:

"Was it enjoyable?" Jackson asked. "Jimmy was there too?"

Yes, Jackson was told, Jim Buss, Jerry's son and the team's executive vice president of player personnel, was at the interview session.

Jackson was then told that Jerry said Jim has taken on a more active role with the team, alongside General Manager Mitch Kupchak.

"Mitch and he work well together," Jackson said. "I think they've proved that over the last three years. So I think it has just grown."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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