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LAKERS NOTEBOOK: `UNFINISHED BUSINESS' DREW JACKSON TO L.A.

Byline: Ross Siler Staff Writer

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - There will be some sentimentality but no second-guessing on the part of Phil Jackson when the New York Knicks come to Staples Center on Wednesday, an alternate-reality game for Jackson if ever there was one.

It will be the first time Jackson will face the Knicks since he was a candidate to be their coach this summer, though the first words of out his mouth when asked about the game Monday were ``Boy, that seems like a long, long ways ago.''

Jackson described the pitch Knicks president Isiah Thomas made to him on May 2, asking Jackson to return to the franchise where he spent 11 seasons as a player, follow in the footsteps of his mentor, Red Holzman, and restore the Knicks to prominence.

``That was all well and fine but there was still some unfinished business, I felt, with the Lakers,'' Jackson said.

But Jackson noted that Thomas did follow up on his promise to overhaul the Knicks' roster in the offseason and praised those moves as being ``very beneficial. They've strengthened their team a lot.''

The Knicks released Jerome Williams in a luxury-tax saving move, acquired center Eddy Curry from Chicago and Allan Houston retired. They also hired Larry Brown as coach after Brown's acrimonious split with the Detroit Pistons.

``You know a lot of people, Isiah was saying, look back to (1994) when the Knicks went to the Finals with some sense of accomplishment,'' Jackson said, ``when he wanted the fact to register that the accomplishment was winning the championship, not going there.''

--Turiaf update: The Lakers continue to follow the progress of 2005 second-round pick Ronny Turiaf as the 22-year-old forward recovers from open heart surgery, and are increasingly considering the possibility that Turiaf will play this season.

``It's not something we planned on,'' general manager Mitch Kupchak said, ``but we haven't ruled it out.''

Turiaf, who underwent surgery July 26, has been a regular presence around the Gonzaga men's basketball team as he recovers in Spokane, Wash. Turiaf played in an open scrimmage last month and has sat at the end of the bench during games.

Over the next month, Turiaf will meet with the doctors who performed his surgery at Stanford University Medical Center and finish up the classes he needs to graduate at Gonzaga. After that, Turiaf could move back to Los Angeles.

The Lakers retained Turiaf's rights after team doctors found he had an enlarged aortic root. They would like him to be around the team this season but he cannot practice without signing a contract and would need to pass a physical to do that.

With 15 players on the roster, the Lakers also could not sign Turiaf without releasing someone. A key date in that respect could be Jan. 10, when player contracts are guaranteed for the rest of the season.

--Also: Forward Slava Medvedenko was back with the team one day after fainting in a hotel elevator in Philadelphia.

``I think people around me were more scared than I was,'' said Medvedenko, who will see doctors about his injured back today.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 15, 2005
Words:520
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