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Lakers Keep Glen Rice For $7M

The biggest news for the Lakers on draft night was who's staying in Los Angeles.

Glen Rice won't become a free agent after the Lakers on Wednesday night exercised the $7 million option they hold on the sharpshooting forward.

"We value Glen a lot," Lakers executive vice president Jerry West said. "Our intent is to have him finish his career in Los Angeles."

At times this past season, Rice wondered if he was a good fit with the Lakers. He arrived from Charlotte in a March trade that sent Eddie Jones and Elden Campbell to the Hornets.

The go-to player in nine previous NBA seasons with Miami and Charlotte, Rice had a difficult time adjusting to often being the third option with the Lakers, behind Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant.

West bristled when asked if Rice would be traded later.

"It's very annoying to keep hearing innuendoes of trades. It's not comfortable for us, it's not comfortable for the players," he said. "It's something people simply make up a lot of times."

The Lakers' first draft under new coach Phil Jackson was a quiet one. Jackson didn't talk to reporters after the team made its two selections.

They took Devean George of Division III Augsburg College in Minnesota with the 23rd pick of the first round. In the second round, they selected guard John Celestand of Villanova with the 30th pick.

George, a 6-foot-6½, 220-pound guard-forward, attracted the attention of NBA scouts at the Portsmouth Invitational, averaging 13.7 points and 10 rebounds to earn all-tournament honors.

"I know this isn't something a lot of people expected, but in my heart this is what I expected because of how much work I put into it," George said in a telephone call from his Minneapolis home. "I was thinking first round all the way."

"He's really not a secret," West said. "You don't hear that much about him, but he really impressed everyone with his play."

George is Augsburg's No. 2 scorer with 2,258 points and No. 2 rebounder with 1,211. He scored in double figures in 92 of 96 career games, and five times had 40 or more points.

"He's a versatile player. He'll give us some size and some more ballhandling," West said.

George played in a pro league with members of the Minnesota Timberwolves, including Kevin Garnett.

"He will not be intimidated by these players," West said. "He's very confident about his abilities."

Celestand, a 6-3, 175-pounder, led Villanova with 14.3 points and 4.4 assists as a senior. He played both guard positions during his career and finished eighth on the school's career assist list with 450.

"I bring size and quickness and I fit in real good with the Lakers' style," Celestand sai. "They want to play an uptempo game."

Like George, Celestand also played at the Portsmouth Invitational, averaging 12.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and five assists.

©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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