LAKERS NOTEBOOK: SHORT TRIP FOR RUSH IN TRADE TO CHARLOTTE.
As great as the gap might seem between the 14-time world champion Lakers and expansion Charlotte Bobcats, Kareem Rush could be forgiven Monday night if that distance felt more like 25 yards.
The Lakers, as expected, completed their trade with the Bobcats earlier in the day, exchanging Rush for two second-round draft picks, and the 24-year-old shooting guard was back at Staples Center like nothing had changed.
His new team was in Los Angeles to play the Clippers and Rush, after one wrong turn and several surprised looks from arena security guards, suited up for his first game with the Bobcats down the hall from the Lakers' locker room.
Although Rush averaged only 6.5 minutes backing up Kobe Bryant this season, Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff said Rush impressed him in college at Missouri, when Bickerstaff was coaching the IBL's St. Louis Swarm.
``He's known me back in my heyday at Missouri,'' Rush said. ``So he knows what type of player I was and can be. It's a matter of going out there and getting the opportunity to do it. Hopefully, he'll give me that chance to go out there and show the entire league and everybody what I can do in major minutes on the court.''
The Lakers receive a second-round picks in 2005 and 2008. They also signed undrafted rookie guard Tony Bobbitt on Monday to replace Rush on the roster.
``What Kareem needs is a place where he can go and play and, hopefully, play injury-free,'' Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said. ``And get the minutes that he needs to develop confidence to play at this league at this level.''
Bickerstaff said he thought he had found the perfect combination of size and athleticism in Rush, who hit six 3-pointers against Minnesota in Game 6 of last season's Western Conference finals but aggravated a tendon injury in his right foot in October.
``To say that a guy probably was the second-best athlete on a championship team every year since he's been here, that's pretty good credentials,'' Bickerstaff said.
Rush will wear No. 4 with the Bobcats, his older brother JaRon's number through high school and college. And Bickerstaff said Rush would have little trouble finding his place (and likely starting job) with Charlotte.
``He can fit right in,'' Bickerstaff said. ``The other guys just have been here about 60 days.''
The Bobcats have only four players with contracts guaranteed past this season. Rush's agent, Calvin Andrews, said he thought Charlotte would make a push to re-sign Rush as a free agent next summer.
``I think they're interested in him beyond this season,'' Andrews said. ``It's safe to say that.''
--Welcome back: Bobbitt was the final player cut in training camp but never really went away. After losing a battle with Tierre Brown for the final roster spot, Bobbitt stayed in Los Angeles, attended games at Staples Center and signed with the ABA's Long Beach Jam.
The 25-year-old guard briefly returned to Miami to work out and see his father but remained in touch with Kupchak. He never lost hope that he would land with the Lakers, and Bobbitt finally got the news he had been waiting for Monday.
``I believe that if you get on your hands and knees at night,'' Bobbitt said, ``and you just pray and you believe in what you do, everything will work out for what's best. That's what happened for me.''
Lakers coach Rudy Tomjanovich likes the spark Bobbitt can bring off the bench. Bobbitt averaged 6.9 points and shot 42.9 percent during the exhibition season.
--Also: Tomjanovich underwent scheduled treatment Monday in continuing his recovery from bladder cancer. ... Bryant told XTRA 690/1150 on Monday that he didn't think Karl Malone would play this season. ... The Lakers will have to decide whether to activate rookie Sasha Vujacic off the injured list Wednesday or play Bobbitt after one day's practice.
Ross Siler, (818) 713-3610
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Dec 7, 2004|
|Previous Article:||USC NOTEBOOK: BUSH NEARLY HONORED TWICE.|
|Next Article:||BILLS NEVER OUT EVEN WHEN THEY'RE DOWN.|