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TV Stations Report O’Neal Going to Lakers

July 18, 1996

ATLANTA (AP) _ Shaquille O’Neal is leaving the Orlando Magic for the Los Angeles Lakers under a multi-year deal worth more than $120 million, TV stations reported today.

WFTV in Orlando said O’Neal signed for $123 million over seven years. In Atlanta, WSB-TV reported the free agent had agreed to go to the Lakers for $125 million.

Greg Warmoth of WFTV said he was with O’Neal at 3 a.m. in Atlanta after O’Neal met with the Lakers officials, including general manager Jerry West. After 1 1/2 hours, the deal was signed and an announcement will be made later today, Warmoth said.

O’Neal was quoted as saying it was a tough decision to leave the Magic.

O’Neal’s agent, Leonard Armato, had said about 3 a.m. that O’Neal was still considering offers.

As O’Neal and the Dream Team arrived at the Olympics, Magic general manager John Gabriel and team president Bob Vander Weide were in town making a new offer reportedly worth $115 million. The Lakers’ offer was believed to be around $120 million for seven years.

``The meeting with Leonard went quite well,″ Gabriel said. ``He was very receptive to our offer. He said he would discuss it with Shaquille and get back to us quickly. We expect an answer sometime (Thursday).″

One of O’Neal’s teammates at the Olympics is anxious for him to make up his mind.

Reggie Miller confirmed Wednesday that the Lakers are one of three teams that have made him an offer, but it will be pulled off the table if O’Neal decides to head for Hollywood.

That would leave Miller choosing between Indiana and Detroit.

``Strange business these days, strange business,″ Miller said.

Orlando got one deal done Wednesday, re-signing power forward Horace Grant to a $50 million, five-year contract.

O’Neal avoided reporters Wednesday after the Dream Team’s last practice at the Disney Institute in Orlando, so he was not able to comment on a poll in the Orlando Sentinel in which about 90 percent of respondents said O’Neal was not worth $115 million.

``Not the type of thing that you want to come out on the day that your franchise player is about to sign or not re-sign,″ Gabriel said.

The Lakers originally offered more than $95 million over seven years, but they traded Anthony Peeler and George Lynch to Vancouver for a second-round draft pick Tuesday to create more room under the salary cap _ and increase their offer to O’Neal.

With the extra money, the Lakers could offer $117 million over seven years.

``If they are trying to squeeze another million or two out of this, then the Lakers can pay it,″ team owner Rich DeVos told the Sentinel.

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