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Lakers' Coach May Be Resigning

By Greg Sandoval
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 2, 2005; Page D08

Los Angeles Lakers Coach Rudy Tomjanovich is considering resigning because of undisclosed health reasons, according to a Lakers spokesman.

Although ESPN.com reported that the Lakers planned to announce Tomjanovich's resignation following last night's 92-79 win over Portland, team spokesman John Black said the coach had not come to a final decision.

Rudy Tomjanovich replaced Phil Jackson as Lakers coach in July. (Chris Carlson -- AP)

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"He's contemplating what to do next and we are happy to give him as much time as he needs," Black said, adding that there was no timetable for how long Tomjanovich would need to make his decision. "When and if he decides to come back, he will let us know. And we will be happy to have him back."

Black said that a combination of stomach virus and sinus infection caused the coach to miss the club's victory over Charlotte on Sunday and last night's game against the Trail Blazers.

Black said Tomjanovich's health concerns had nothing to do with the bout with bladder cancer that forced him to resign as coach of the Houston Rockets following the 2002-03 season.

ESPN.com, which quoted unnamed sources, also cited the Lakers' poor play this season as a factor in Tomjanovich's decision. The team is 24-19 and in seventh place in the Western Conference.

Assistant coach Frank Hamblen would take over the club on an interim basis, according to ESPN.com.

After 34 years as a member of the Rockets organization, 12 as head coach, Tomjanovich replaced Phil Jackson as Lakers coach on July 10 following the team's housecleaning last summer, in which center Shaquille O'Neal was traded to the Miami Heat and Jackson's contract was not extended.

Winner of two NBA championships with the Rockets (1994 and '95), Tomjanovich agreed to take over a rebuilding Lakers squad. Guard Kobe Bryant, who was accused of orchestrating the departures of O'Neal and Jackson, reportedly had pushed the Lakers to replace Jackson with Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski, but the college coaching giant elected to stay put.

Most reports describe Tomjanovich and Bryant's relationship as friendly. Bryant sprained his right ankle Jan. 13 and has not played since.

Tomjanovich posted a 503-397 (.559) regular season record and a 51-39 (.567) playoff record with the Rockets. His career victories and winning percentage are Rockets franchise records.

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