Basketball: Oakley ponders pounds 4m cut in pay

THE LOS ANGELES Lakers are hoping to convince Charles Oakley to play for them for $2m (pounds 1.2m) per year, even though he is demanding $8.5m (pounds 5.3m) per year from Toronto for each year of a three-year contract.

Oakley had lunch with Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant yesterday and a tour of the Lakers new arena, where they hope Oakley will play power forward for them. Oakley, 35, is asking for pounds 5.3m annually from Toronto, who have offered pounds 3.4m per year.

"Contrary to what people in Toronto are saying, the Raptors haven't increased their offer," Oakley's agent, Billy Diamond, said. Derek Fisher, who split time with Derek Harper at point guard last season for the Lakers, signed a seven-year contract worth about $24m (pounds 15m).

Meanwhile, Ron Mercer was sold from Boston to Denver in a six-player deal that also sent Popeye Jones and Dwayne Schintzius to Denver for Danny Fortson, Eric Washington, Eric Williams and a first-round draft choice in one of the next three years.

Fortson, a forward who was ranked fourth in the NBA in rebounding last season, is going into the final season of his three-year rookie contract - just like Mercer.

Boston did not want to meet Mercer's asking price, which was believed to be in excess of $50m (pounds 31m) for a six-year extension. Mercer can be a free agent next year.

"We had no desire to trade Ron Mercer," their coach, Rick Pitino, said. "I could not even come close to the numbers Ron Mercer wanted as a basketball player."

Orlando traded Nick Anderson, the last remaining member of the original expansion team, to Sacramento for Tariq Abdul-Wahad and a future first- round draft pick.

Anderson, 31, was the first draft pick of the expansion Magic in 1989. He was entering the third season of a four-year contract that, with incentives, could pay him more than $24 m (pounds 15m).

Bo Outlaw re-signed with Orlando for one year and $2m (pounds 1.2m), and Sacramento re-signed Jon Barry and Scot Pollard. New Jersey released center Rony Seikaly, who played just 18 games with New Jersey because of injuries. New Jersey still owes Seikaly $4.5m (pounds 2.8m) for the final season of his contract.

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