Archive for Friday, November 30, 2007

Jackson to stay in L.A.

Lakers’ coach lands two-year extension

November 30, 2007

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— Lakers coach Phil Jackson said he has agreed to terms of a two-year contract extension believed to be worth about $24 million, putting him under contract through the 2009-10 season.

The Hall of Fame coach announced his decision and discussed his contract situation before Thursday night's game against the Denver Nuggets. When asked if this was his final contract with the Lakers, he hedged a bit and didn't give a direct answer.

"I was in my 50s in the last era, I'm in my 60s in this era, and maybe I can go on into my 70s," he said. "But I really don't think so. I mean, I'm losing a step as I go - mentally and physically. Being abreast of all these kids is not an easy task. I can hardly speak their language, but I'm trying."

When asked a second time if he was saying it's his last contract with the Lakers, he laughed and replied: "No, I'm not."

The 62-year-old Jackson signed a five-year, $30 million contract with the Lakers in June 1999, and coached them to three championships before they lost to San Antonio in the Western Conference semifinals in 2003 and were beaten by Detroit in the NBA finals in 2004.

Jackson and the team parted ways in June 2004, and he took a year off before signing a three-year, $30 million contract - the richest deal for an NBA coach - on June 14, 2005.

Rudy Tomjanovich had signed a five-year deal with the Lakers after Jackson left, but stepped down after a half-season on the job.

Jackson had expressed uncertainty because he's undergone two hip replacement operations since October 2006 - the second one last June. He used a cane for four months, including the preseason, and put off his decision to return twice before meeting with Lakers owner Jerry Buss this week.

"This offer was extended to me last year, and I promised Dr. Buss that I would let them know before the end of the season whether I would continue on," Jackson said. "But obviously, due to the health situation that went on this summer, it's delayed this decision 'til this particular time."

Jackson said his surgery last June was debilitating.

"Even simple tasks like putting on shoes and socks were very difficult, so I kind of asked them to just be patient. Training camp wasn't easy, but after a couple of road trips, I felt comfortable to make that decision."

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