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In search of backcourt veteran, Lakers consider Fisher

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Lakers have a new young point
guard and might be interested in bringing back one of their old
point guards to give the rookie some guidance.

The Lakers took Georgia Tech's Javaris Crittenton with the 19th
overall pick in the NBA draft last week -- the second straight year
they've gone for a point guard in the first round. But they're in
search of a veteran at that position, and Derek Fisher, who won
three championships with the Lakers, is a possibility.

"We're looking around. Free agency is one way to address it. A
trade is another way," general manager Mitch Kupchak said Tuesday
after Crittenton was introduced at a news conference at Lakers
headquarters.

The Utah Jazz agreed to release Fisher from his contract Monday
so he can concentrate on finding the best care for his 11-month-old
daughter, who has cancer in her left eye.

"Yesterday is a new development that will be addressed as
well," Kupchak said. "We don't know what Derek's intentions are.
I really have not sat down and addressed the Lakers' needs in
regard to Derek. Our prayers and best wishes are with Derek and his
family."

Fisher said he wants to live in one of the six or seven cities
being considered for Tatum's care. He didn't rule out playing for
another NBA team, but emphasized that his daughter's health is his
No. 1 priority.

Fisher played his first eight NBA seasons with the Lakers before
signing as a free agent with Golden State after the 2003-04 season.
The Warriors later traded him to Utah.

Both Fisher and Kobe Bryant began their careers in 1996, and
they were close during their eight years as teammates.

Crittenton, a 6-foot-5, 198-pounder who turns 20 on New Year's
Eve, averaged 14.4 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 2.0 steals
in his one season at Georgia Tech.

"That one year I spent at Georgia Tech made me a better player,
a better person," he said. "I'm confident. I feel like I have a
lot to learn. This is a great organization to help me become a
better player."

"You think of all the great players who have played for this
organization -- from Magic [Johnson] to Kobe. I hope to play with
Kobe. I hope whatever they need to keep him happens. I feel like I
can get him the ball."

Bryant has expressed a desire to be traded, but the Lakers don't
appear interested in granting his wish.

The Lakers signed Crittenton after the news conference, and
he'll play with their Summer League team this month in Las Vegas.
According the NBA's collective bargaining agreement, Crittenton's
deal is guaranteed for two years, with team options for the third
and fourth seasons. He will earn $1.071 million as a rookie and
$1.151 million in his second year.

Crittenton spoke briefly with Lakers coach Phil Jackson before
meeting with the media.

"He's a legend. He coached Michael Jordan. He's coaching Kobe
right now," Crittenton said.

When told Jackson was known to be tough on rookies, Crittenton
replied: "That's fine with me. He's only going to make me a better
player."

Crittenton was accompanied by his mother, Sonya Dixon, and
8-year-old sister, Shaniya Lee.

"I'm very excited," Ms. Dixon said. "I've never been to Los
Angeles. I love Kobe, I love Phil Jackson. I think he's going to do
well here.

"This is a perfect place for my son. He's a good kid. He's very
competitive. Once he sets his mind to what he wants, he usually
gets there."

Crittenton's mother said she planned to move to Los Angeles for
at least a year "and get him adjusted."

Asked what advice his mother has given him, Crittenton replied:
"Just to work hard, do all the things I've done to get me here,
not be distracted by women, bright lights."