Richmond, Walker sign with LA Lakers


LOS ANGELES, AFP

Mitch Richmond, who became a free agent last month when Washington bought out the final two years of his contract for US$10 million, signed a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers also signed free agent forward Samaki Walker, who spent the last two seasons with Western Conference rival San Antonio but was released three weeks ago. Richmond became the 26th player in National Basketball Association history to surpass 20,000 career points last season. But he is 36 and injuries to both knees limited him to 37 games last season. Richmond averaged 16.2 points and lost his starting job. “Mitch has been one of the best guards in the NBA over the past 13 years,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said here Friday. “He is not only been a great scorer and solid defender but also a top-notch professional in the locker roon and off the court as well.” Since winning their second straight NBA title in June, the Lakers have lost guard Tyronn Lue to the Washington Wizards and forward Horace Grant to the Orlando Magic. Also, starting guard Derek Fisher and backup forward Mark Madsen have had surgery recently and are not expected to be ready for the start of next season. Walker, 25, should offset the loss of Grant. Walker averaged 5.3 points and 4.0 rebounds in 61 games last season. For his career, he has averages of 5.9 points and 4.3 rebounds.

Raptors sign key players in hopes of keeping Carter Improving their chances of keeping National Basketball Association superstar Vince Carter and contending for an NBA title, the Toronto Raptors re-signed center Antonio Davis and guard Alvin Williams. The NBA’s only team outside the United States came to terms with the free agents here Friday on multi-year deals, landing All-Star Davis for five years at US$60 million. The Raptors lost Tracy McGrady to Orlando through free agency last year and needed to keep top talent this year to have a chance at retaining Carter when he becomes a fre agent in 12 months. Davis, 33, helped the Raptors win a playoff series for the first time in franchise history. They pushed Philadelphia to seven games before falling in the NBA quarter-finals. Davis was expected to sign with Orlando, where he owns a home. But the Magic did not have the room under the salary cap and instead opted for Patrick Ewing, who accepted part of their US$4.5 million salary cap exception. The Raptors were more than willing to pay the big bucks for Davis.

Anderson spurns San Antonio for Portland Derek Anderson took US$2.25 million to play for the San Antonio Spurs last season, with the expectation that they would improve his contract this summer. When he started to feel they were being disloyal to him, Anderson committed to the Portland Trail Blazers. Portland landed one of the biggest free-agent prizes in the NBA on Friday, almost by accident. Realizing Anderson had reached an impasse with the Spurs, the Blazers lured Anderson away with only the promise of their US$4.5 million mid level salary-cap exception. Anderson’s six-year deal, with an opt-out clause after five years, would be worth up to US$34 million, but he could earn more if the Blazers and Spurs can work out a sign and-trade deal. Negotiations probably won’t begin until early next week, said Anderson’s agent, Tony Dutt said. Steve Smith, who started last season at shooting guard for Portland, but later lost his job to Bonzi Wells, likely would be part of such a trade. Wells seriously injured his left knee late in the season and is trying to get ready for training camp in early October. Also Friday, the Blazers — who had a league-record US$89.7 million payroll, more than US$54 million above the cap — shed dlrs US$4.4 million in salary by trading Greg Anthony to Chicago and letting free agent Stacey Augmon go to Charlotte. Also, the Blazers could soon re-sign free agent center Arvydas Sabonis. According to local media reports, the 36-year-old Lithuanian has said he wants to play one more season in Portland before retiring. He likely will have to take a big cut from the US$10 million he made last season.

Free agent Weatherspoon joins Knicks The New York Knicks signed forward Clarence Weatherspoon on Friday.

Terms were not disclosed, but the New York Daily News reported that the 30-year-old accepted the US$4.5 million salary cap exception from the Knicks and agreed to a five-year contract worth US$27 million.

Seeking a strong rebounder and inside scorer but unable to work out a trade for Sacramento’s All-Star power forward Chris Webber, the Knicks turned to Weatherspoon, who will join his fifth team in as many years.

“I’m delighted to become a member of one of the premier teams in the league and I’m excited to play in front of the best fans in the NBA,” Weatherspoon said.

“The Knicks are proven winners and I look forward to helping them win a championship.”

The 6-7, 265-pound forward averaged 11.3 points and 9.7 rebounds last season for the Cleveland Cavaliers after being acquired in a three-team deal that sent Brian Grant to Miami and Shawn Kemp to Portland.

Bulls acquire Anthony from Trail Blazers The Chicago Bulls have acquired veteran point guard Greg Anthony from the Portland Trail Blazers, the team announced on Friday.

Bulls general manager Jerry Krause made the move for Anthony after Jamal Crawford injured his knee in a pickup game three days ago.

The injury could be a torn anterior cruciate ligament and Crawford might miss all of next season.

The Trail Blazers will receive a second-round pick in the 2002 draft, the selection Chicago obtained from Toronto in the Charles Oakley deal.

The Bulls have not determined the extent of Crawford’s injury, but Krause said that “the injury is not minor.”

Anthony, 33, will make US$6 million over the next two years of his contract.

A 10-year veteran, Anthony’s appearances diminished last season after the Trail Blazers signed Rod Strickland to serve as a backup to Damon Stoudamire.

Van Exel’s mother shot four times The mother of NBA guard Nick Van Exel was ambushed outside her apartment early Friday and shot four times, police said. Joyce Van Exel, 47, was recuperating in an Indianapolis hospital. The woman was shot once in the face, twice in the chest and once in the leg, but her wounds were not life threatening, said Maj. Mike Turk of the Marion County Sheriff’s Department. “The only thing we have right now is that when she got home at about 1200 a.m., she was approached by a black man who said ‘Hi’ and then shot her four times,” Turk said. ‘We are searching for a motive and a suspect.” The shooting happened in the parking lot at her apartment complex. A spokeswoman for Wishard Hospital, where Joyce Van Exel is recovering, would not release her condition. Turk said she was in stable condition and conscious early Friday morn