- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 4, 2001

Los Angeles Lakers point guard Tyronn Lue got the attention of Philadelphia 76ers guard Allen Iverson when he covered the league MVP in last month's NBA Finals. However, Iverson wasn't the only person impressed with the play of the Lakers' speedy guard.

Lue's play also caught the eyes of the Washington Wizards, who, according to a league source, will pursue the free agent who helped the Lakers to their second straight title.

The 6-foot Lue, once a first-round pick by the Denver Nuggets out of the University of Nebraska, made $895,000 last season. According to the source, Lue is seen as a potential backup at point guard for Chris Whitney. The Wizards likely will bring Lue in next week.

Although he would not comment on whether the Wizards have begun negotiating with Lue, assistant general manager Rod Higgins said, "Lue is a good player. He showed he could do some things in the playoffs."

The Lakers turned to Lue, the quickest player on the team, during the finals because he could match Iverson in quickness. After watching Iverson scorch Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher for 48 points in Game 1, Lakers coach Phil Jackson assigned Iverson to Lue. It worked to a degree. Iverson averaged 35.6 points in the series, but he shot just 40.7 percent from the field as the Lakers won the series 4-1 to secure their second consecutive championship.

Lue appeared in just 38 regular season games for the Lakers last year and averaged 3.4 points and 1.2 assists. Lue, acquired along with Tony Battie from the Nuggets in exchange for Nick Van Exel, has averaged 4.1 points and 1.4 assists in his career.

Because they are over the salary cap, the Lakers probably will be willing to part with Lue. The NBA champions recently acquired former Milwaukee point guard Lindsey Hunter in a trade for little-used backup center Greg Foster. Hunter likely will be used as a backup to Fisher, who suffered a broken foot during the finals but could be ready by the time the team goes to training camp in the fall.

The Wizards are just below the NBA's projected $44 million to $46 million salary cap. They have just $5.5 million in exceptions to offer free agents from other teams. Although teams are free to negotiate with players and their agents, they are not permitted to begin signing players until July 18.

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