ESPN: An informal survey of team executives and agents here in Vegas has turned up pretty much no one who thinks the Lakers will match the four-year offer sheet worth an estimated $17 million that Ronny Turiaf has signed with Golden State, as much as the Lakers went into free agency hoping to retain Turiaf and Sasha Vujacic.
The theory in circulation holds that minutes will simply be too scarce in L.A.’s frontcourt next season with Andrew Bynum coming back from injury to partner Pau Gasol to sanction a long-term contract to a clear-cut backup.
And as my man Sam Amick from The Sacramento Bee points out, retaining Turiaf leaves the Lakers with no hope — thanks to luxury-tax concerns — of taking on the extra contract (Kenny Thomas) they’ll need to swallow if they can convince the Kings to agree to a swap featuring Lamar Odom and Ron Artest.
The Lakers’ interest, by all accounts, remains hot after their toughness and defense were repeatedly punked in a six-game NBA Finals loss to the Boston Celtics. Word is L.A. believes that any fears about Artest’s reliability can be assuaged by the fact that Phil Jackson would be coaching him and that Kobe Bryant would be his teammate. Kobe and Ron-Ron share a mutual respect that suggests no threat to the Lakers’ pecking order.
Insists one source close to the process: “[Lakers owner] Jerry Buss actually likes Ron Artest’s game and his personality.”