Originally created 02/02/05

Tomjanovich might resign as Lakers coach



LOS ANGELES - Rudy Tomjanovich is considering resigning as Los Angeles Lakers coach because of health reasons, a team spokesman said Tuesday.

ESPN.com reported that Tomjanovich would step down following Tuesday night's game against Portland. Spokesman John Black said that would not be the case.

"He's considering several options and resigning is one of them. That decision has not been made," Black said. "There won't be an announcement tonight. He won't coach tonight because he's not feeling well. This has nothing to do with cancer."

The 56-year-old Tomjanovich, who won a pair of NBA championships with the Houston Rockets, missed the Lakers' win over Charlotte on Sunday night because of what the team said was a stomach virus. He returned to the coaching ranks this season after recovering from bladder cancer.

Assistant coach Frank Hamblen, the only holdover from former coach Phil Jackson's staff, guided the team against the Bobcats and will coach them against the Trail Blazers.

Black said Tomjanovich has had a sinus infection as well as the stomach virus.

"It's health-related," Black said about Tomjanovich's absence. "He loves the team and the team loves him."

Tomjanovich did not return a phone message from The Associated Press.

After cutting ties with Jackson and trading Shaquille O'Neal during the offseason, the Lakers have been a mediocre team this season. They were 23-19 going into Tuesday's game against the Trail Blazers.

Black said he had no idea when Tomjanovich will be back on the bench - if indeed he stays on the job.

Tomjanovich signed a 5-year, $30 million contract last summer.

"He has discussed this with the appropriate people in the organization," Black said. "When he does make a decision, it will be announced at the appropriate time."

Tomjanovich succeeded Jackson when the Lakers did not renew his contract. Jackson led the Lakers to three consecutive NBA championships as well as a berth in the finals last June, when they were upset by Detroit.

The Lakers traded O'Neal to Miami and kept Kobe Bryant after the season, re-signing the guard to a 7-year, $136.4 million contract.

Bryant sprained his right ankle Jan. 13 and hasn't played since.

Tomjanovich guided Houston to NBA titles in 1994 and 1995. He spent his entire playing career in the Rockets' organization.

Speaking before the Heat played at Dallas on Tuesday night, O'Neal wished Tomjanovich well.

"Me and Rudy have a great relationship," O'Neal said. "He should take care of himself. I hope it's not health-related because he's a great guy."

When asked what a possible coaching change would mean for the Lakers, O'Neal replied: "I don't know. I'm not concerned with the organization."

O'Neal was traded less than a week after Tomjanovich was hired. Because of their friendship, O'Neal called Tomjanovich before he got the Lakers' job and told him he wasn't coming back, no matter what.

"You respect a coach that's done well with other big men, one of the greatest big men in my eyes, so I always had a lot of respect for him," O'Neal said. "I know he's a big man's type of coach."

O'Neal referred to former Rockets star Hakeem Olajuwon, who led the Rockets to a four-game sweep over O'Neal and the Orlando Magic in the 1995 NBA Finals.