Fisher wants to return

Derek Fisher has said all along that he hopes to re-sign with the Lakers and continue to chase NBA championships. He will become a free agent July 1, but he made it clear today he wants to remain with the Lakers. Here’s more:

“I’ve never mixed any statements or positions about winning and wanting to be associated with winning championships and being on the best team in the NBA. We just accomplished it again this year. It would definitely be a great opportunity with largely the same group of guys. There are a lot of questions about Phil (Jackson) and his return (as the Lakers’ coach), and I think it impacts the front office as well.

“I don’t think there’s any question about (team owner) Dr. Buss and his commitment to winning. … It’s just a matter of sitting down and working out the details. Until July 1, it’s all wishes. … I’m not set on that (a long deal). It depends on the circumstances and how the deal would look and the position of the team. I’m not chasing the money. So, I’m not looking to stretch out a deal.”

Lakers interested in Bell?

Here are the top few lines from the Yahoo! Sports story:

“The Lakers and guard Raja Bell will enter free agency with a strong mutual interest to reach agreement on a deal, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

“Kobe Bryant has become a strong advocate for Bell, a former nemesis. After missing most of the season with surgery to repair ligaments in his non-shooting wrist, Bell is still expected to be a coveted bench player among contending teams. He could give the Lakers another strong perimeter defender and a solid outside shooting threat.

“Bell, 33, was dealt to the Golden State Warriors in November as part of the Stephen Jackson trade with the Charlotte Bobcats. Bell missed all but six games last season.”

Gasol says no to Spain

Pau Gasol has decided to rest this summer rather than join Spain for the World Championships later this summer in Turkey. He made it clear after his exit interview today with Lakers coach Phil Jackson and GM Mitch Kupchak that it was a tough decision .

“But I understand it’s best for my body, for myself and, consequently, the teams I’m a part of,” Gasol said during a sit-down interview with reporters. “After two or three very demanding years, with a lot of basketball, and getting to six finals (three NBA Finals, two European Championships and one Olympics), I think I’ve played as much basketball as I could play possibly. My body is asking me to rest, to recover, to be able to be fresh and continue to play at the level I’m playing. Otherwise, my body is going to break down quicker and I’m gong to become a worse player, which is something I don’t want to happen.”

Bynum gets knee drained

Andrew Bynum said he had his injured right knee drained again today and plans to undergo surgery to mend torn meniscus on or about July 18. He plans to attend the World Cup first, however. He plans to depart for South Africa at the end of the month. Bynum injured his knee during the Lakers’ first-round playoff victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder. His effectiveness came and went, but he managed to play all 23 playoff games. He revealed today that he was asked during his exit interview with Coach Phil Jackson and General Manager Mitch Kupchak if he could have played another game. He said he could have done so. Fortunately for him and the Lakers, there was no Game 8 of the NBA Finals.

Will Phil stay or go?

Only Phil Jackson knows whether he will sign a new contract and continue coaching the Lakers or whether he will call it quits and retire to his place in Montana. Here’s a postgame quote from Thursday night that makes it seem as if his connection to the Lakers makes it impossible to walk away from such a good thing:

“I frequently cry, I really do. But not tonight. … It’s about the joy for this group of guys that put so much work out. We tax these guys. We make them go through all kinds of difficult things over the course of a year.

“We ask them to play injured … and they’re a very willing group, and I’m very proud of them and very happy for them. I think that’s really the joy. To have put in 114 games and coming out this way at the end, there’s a certain sense of gratification.

“And that’s what I have to believe in.”

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Champions again!

Tough, tough game, but the Lakers managed to find a way to rally from a 13-point deficit in the third quarter to defeat the Boston Celtics, 83-79, in Game 7 of the NBA Finals tonight. They might have put to rest for good the notion that they are a soft team, mentally and physically, because this was a man’s game tonight. No wimps allowed. The Lakers took all the Celtics had to give, which was plenty, and pulled out their second straight title and their 16th overall. Boston has 17, so there’s one reason to expect the Lakers to go for a third consecutive title next season. Kobe Bryant was named the Finals MVP for the second straight season. He had a struggle, but scored 23 points and grabbed 15 rebounds. Pau Gasol served as his wingman as usual, scoring 19 points and taking 18 rebounds. Ron Artest proved his worth to the Lakers by scoring 20 points and grabbing five rebounds.

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Halftime: Celtics 40, Lakers 34

The first team to settle down will probably win Game 7 of the NBA Finals tonight. Each team looked a little swept up in the moment in the first half. The Boston Celtics seemed bent on hacking and whacking their way to a title, daring the Lakers to shove back. Referees Joey Crawford, Danny Crawford and Scott Foster put their whistles away, which benefited the Celtics greatly. The Lakers shot 26.5 percent, with Kobe Bryant missing 11 of 14 and Pau Gasol shanking 9 of 12. The Lakers outrebounded the Celtics, 29-21.

Bynum: “I’m playing”

Lakers center Andrew Bynum said he plans to play Thursday night in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. He also said it was a relief that this is the final game of the season and added he has not set a date for surgery to mend the torn meniscus in his right knee. Bynum scored two points, grabbed four rebounds and blocked one shot in a little less than 16 minutes in the Lakers’ victory in Game 6 on Tuesday. He played only 1:42 in the second half, telling Lakers coach Phil Jackson he couldn’t run and was better off sitting on the bech.

Perkins: “I’ll be watching from the sidelines”

Boston center Kendrick Perkins has tears of his ACL and PCL in his right knee and won’t be able to play in Game 7 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night. Perkins was injured midway through the first quarter of Game 6 on Tuesday. He said today, “I’ll be watching from the sidelines. I’d be lying to you if I said it didn’t hurt (to sit out). Physically, I’m doing better than I am mentally.” Boston coach Doc Rivers said he hasn’t decided on a replacement.