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Report: Payton to sign with Lakers

July 8, 2003 at 7:54 PM

LOS ANGELES, July 8 (UPI) -- Gary Payton reportedly has reached a verbal agreement to join the Los Angeles Lakers.

ESPN reported Tuesday that the veteran point guard will accept the team's mid-level exception, believed to be Los Angeles' limit of $4.9 million. Nothing can become official until July 16 when teams can begin signing free agents.

The Lakers are well over the NBA's salary cap of $40-plus million, but Payton's agent - Aaron Goodwin - told ESPN that his client still will sign a multi-year deal.

Goodwin told ESPN that Payton has chosen to accept less money to join the Lakers. He said Portland was interested in acquiring his services in a sign-and-trade deal with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Payton split the 2002-03 campaign between the Seattle SuperSonics and Bucks but became a free agent at the end of the season.

Payton has been a member of the All-NBA Team seven times.

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