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· Registered
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Lakers trade Hunter, first-round pick to Toronto for Murray
AP Sports Writer
June 27, 2002

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) -- The Los Angeles Lakers traded Lindsey Hunter and the draft rights to Chris Jefferies to Toronto in exchange for Tracy Murray and the draft rights to Kareem Rush on Wednesday night.

In addition, the teams will flip-flop second-round draft picks in future years.

Rush, a 6-foot-6, 215-pound guard, left Missouri after his junior season to enter the draft. His career average of 18.9 points is the fourth-highest in school history.

The 21-year-old Rush gives the three-time defending NBA champion Lakers some desperately needed youth on a team where many of the veterans are in their 30s.

He also fills coach Phil Jackson's desire for a big guard.

``He's got NBA size, athletic ability, skill level,'' Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said of Rush. ``We know he can score and that's probably the hardest variable to find at this level.''

Rush is the younger brother of former UCLA star JaRon Rush, who left school early but was not drafted and has floundered in his attempts at a pro career.

``As a rookie, he's going to have to earn his time on this team,'' Kupchak said.

Kupchak said the deal was contingent upon a player the Lakers wanted being available when Toronto selected 20th in the first round. The Raptors took Rush.

``We were surprised Kareem was there at 20. We thought he'd be higher,'' Kupchak said. ``He was upset too. He maybe has something to prove.''

Murray was overjoyed at being traded to Los Angeles, where he lives in the off-season and plays pickup games at UCLA, his alma mater.

``My dream was not accomplished until now,'' Murray said by telephone. ``From here, let's go get number four.''

Murray said he heard Tuesday night that a trade was possible.

``I couldn't sleep last night,'' he said.

Murray, a 6-7 forward, averaged 5.7 points and 1.3 rebounds in 40 games with Toronto before having right hip surgery on April 3. He was plagued by back spasms during the season caused by the hip problem and hadn't played since Feb. 18.

He said he's ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation. Doctors had told him he would likely return to full strength by late August or early September.

``I feel I'll be going full bore by the end of July,'' he said.

Although Murray turns 31 next month, Kupchak likes Murray's double-figure scoring average in recent years.

``There's probably not a finer shooter in the league,'' Kupchak said.

In his first season with the Lakers, Hunter proved an able replacement at guard while Derek Fisher was on the injured list early in the season.

But once Fisher proved he was fully recovered, Hunter became expendable and was relegated to coming off the bench.

``This is the best thing to happen to me,'' Hunter said. ``I can come to a team that I will probably fit in better.''

Hunter, a 10-year veteran, averaged career lows of 5.8 points, 1.6 assists and 19.7 minutes in 82 games.

``Lindsey was incredible last year as far as getting us through the first two months of the season,'' Kupchak said. ``It was a luxury to have him on the bench. We felt that luxury would provide us with a bigger player.''

Hunter said he was ``pleasantly surprised'' by the trade and looking forward to playing with Vince Carter after watching him for years.

``Lindsey will help our team substantially. Here's a guy that's played in the NBA finals,'' Toronto general manager Glen Grunwald said. ``We see him playing a more significant role with our team in future seasons.''

The Lakers took Jeffries 27th in the first round with their only draft pick. The 6-foot-8, 215-pound forward left Fresno State after averaging 17.3 points as a junior.

``That was a pick made by us for somebody else,'' Jackson said.

Jackson said the Lakers didn't cover all their bases Wednesday. They still lack a legitimate center to back up Shaquille O'Neal and a third guard who would allow Kobe Bryant more time at wing.

Kupchak and Jackson have urged O'Neal to seek additional medical advice on his injured feet and have surgery in a timely fashion.

``We don't want to get to October and then start seeing doctors and trying to decide what to do,'' Kupchak said.

Jackson noted that O'Neal's first priority in the off-season is to graduate from the police academy with a degree.

``Before he apprehends any felons or any burglars, we want him to be a healthy player and finish out his contract with the Los Angeles Lakers,'' Jackson said. ``We're trying to keep him focused on, `Let get this thing settled.' My input to Shaquille is let's get this done before September so it doesn't affect our season.''

· Beware of Elbows
18,412 Posts
I think it's great that Shaq wants to be a cop. He'll say, "Freeze!" and the criminal will say, "Oh, sh*t hey Shaq! what's going on? Can I have your autograph?":laugh: Imagine seeing an angry Shaq, wearing a uniform in a dark alley late at night.:eek:
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