Lakers Sign Free Agents Gary Payton and Karl Malone

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., July 16 -- The Los Angeles Lakers have signed free agent guard Gary Payton and free agent forward Karl Malone to contracts, it was announced today by General Manager Mitch Kupchak. Per team policy terms of the contracts were not released.

“In evaluating our team at the end of last season, we said we needed help in the front court and in the back court,” said Kupchak. “With Gary Payton, we’ve added one of the best guards in the league over the past decade and with Karl Malone, we’ve added probably the greatest power forward in the history of the NBA, so we think these signings make us a significantly better team.”

Payton, who finished last season ranked second in the NBA in assists (8.3), averaged 20.4 points and 4.2 rebounds last season with the Seattle Supersonics and the Milwaukee Bucks.

During his thirteen-year career, Payton has been named to the NBA All-Defensive Team eight consecutive seasons (1994-2001), named to the All-NBA team seven times (First team 1998, 2000; Second Team in 1995,1996,1997, 1999 and Third Team 2001), selected to the NBA All-Star Team seven straight seasons (1994-98, 2000-01), and was named Defensive Player of the Year in 1996, becoming the first guard to win the award since Michael Jordan in 1987-88.

The 6-4 guard was drafted by the Seattle Supersonics with the second overall pick in 1990 and was a member of the gold medal-winning 1996 and 2000 U.S. Men's Olympic Teams.

Malone, who ranks second all-time in the NBA in points scored (36,374), averaged 20.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.7 assists last season with the Utah Jazz. The 6’9” forward, a two-time NBA MVP and fourteen-time NBA All-Star selection, has career averages of 25.4 points, 10.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists. The 18-year veteran who was selected in 1996 as one of the “50 Greatest Players in NBA History,” has been named to the All-NBA team fourteen times and ranks second all-time in field goals made (13,335) and in minutes played (53,479) trailing only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who holds both records. Malone also ranks seventh all-time in rebounds with 14,601.

Malone was the thirteenth overall pick in the 1985 NBA draft (Utah Jazz). He was a member of the “Dream Team” that won the gold medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona and the 1996 Dream Team that won gold in Atlanta.