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No late signings for the Lakers

While Miami adds Mike Bibby and Boston gets Troy Murphy, Phil Jackson isn't inclined to put a new face on the roster, although Matt Barnes is expected back in the lineup Friday against Charlotte.

March 03, 2011|By Mike Bresnahan
  • Lakers forward Matt Barnes, playing against the Raptors earlier this season, is likely to make his return to the court Friday night after missing 25 games.
Lakers forward Matt Barnes, playing against the Raptors earlier this season,… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

Miami signs Mike Bibby, Boston signs Troy Murphy, and the Lakers … welcome Matt Barnes back from injury?

The Lakers stood still in the aftermath of another personnel deadline, declining to add any of the top veterans recently waived by other teams, though they seemed fine with it.

Coach Phil Jackson said he wasn't disappointed with the decision to avoid adding anybody. After all, he's the one who historically hates adding players once the season gets past the halfway point, practically ignoring late pickups Jim Jackson and Ira Newble in recent years.

He had no problem integrating Pau Gasol into the lineup in 2008, though that was an exceptional exception.

Jackson seems content with the Lakers' recent chemistry and cognizant of the difficulty in finding minutes for another body. He also didn't seem enthralled by the concept of veterans being bought out and subsequently waived by teams that were looking to save salary.

"It's just kind of a trend in the NBA that's been going on for six, seven years now," Jackson said. "A lot of players coming off teams, getting buyouts."

On the other hand, he thought Bibby and Murphy might help their new teams after being cut by Washington and Golden State, respectively.

"They're quality players, or have been in the past," Jackson said. "They should still have something left in the tank to help out their new teams."

The Lakers will add a player to their lineup when Barnes presumably returns Friday against Charlotte after sitting out 25 games because of surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right knee.

"Right now, he's looking pretty good," Jackson said. "I'm looking forward to him playing Friday, but we'll see."

Barnes was averaging 7.4 points and 20.8 minutes a game.

Uh-oh, it's Charlotte

It's a funny little blemish on the history of a 16-time NBA champion: The Lakers have losing records against two teams, one of which is sensible (Boston), and one of which is Charlotte.

The Lakers are 5-8 against the Bobcats, a strange stumble for an elite team, including last month's 109-89 pounding in Charlotte, the Lakers' worst loss of the season.

Jackson was irritated beyond belief that night after the loss.

"I thought our players really quit playing out there on the floor," he recalled Thursday. "It was a just a game in which they didn't continue to compete and that bothered me."

Luckily for the Lakers in Friday's rematch, Charlotte (26-34) isn't close to the same team it was before the trade deadline.

The Bobcats traded two-time All-Star forward Gerald Wallace to Portland last week, a salary dump that netted an expiring contract (center Joel Przybilla), two role players and two first-round draft picks. The Bobcats also traded veteran center Nazr Mohammad, who burned the Lakers for 16 points in 24 minutes last month.

The results haven't been promising. In fact, the Bobcats lost in Denver on Wednesday, 120-80.

Still, the Lakers tread cautiously. Very cautiously.

"They're talented individuals and they elevate their play when they go against us," Kobe Bryant said. "If [Charlotte] played the rest of the league the way they play against us, they'd be up there in the playoffs."

Pau Gasol added: "Hopefully … we'll be getting our way and paying them back for the disaster game we had over there this season."

Gasol frowned when told the Bobcats celebrated quite loudly after beating the Lakers last month.

"I'd have celebrated if I beat the Lakers. That's one of the highlights of the year," he said.

Times correspondent Mark Medina contributed to this report.

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