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Rambis to Return to Bench

June 27, 2001|Tim Brown

Kurt Rambis, who served last season as Laker General Manager Mitch Kupchak's assistant, is expected to become an assistant coach next season in a mild modification of Phil Jackson's staff.

Bill Bertka, the longtime Laker assistant who has served under seven Laker head coaches, is believed to be transferring into a consulting or scouting position with the club.

Tex Winter, who with Jackson won six NBA titles in Chicago and then accompanied Jackson to Los Angeles, is mulling retirement, but might simply reduce his travel with the club and maintain all previous responsibilities. Winter, 79, is said to be eager to test his triangle offense against NBA rules that next season will allow zone and gimmick defenses.

Assistants Jim Cleamons and Frank Hamblen are expected to return in the same capacities.

Rambis' move--from front office to the bench--would appear to affirm him as Jackson's heir apparent. Rambis coached 37 games and the playoffs in the turbulent 1999-2000 season, but has remained a favorite of owner Jerry Buss and Kupchak.

Jackson has three seasons left on a five-year, $30-million contract.

In other Laker news, the agent for Robert Horry notified the team that Horry will not exercise the opt-out clause on his contract and therefore will return next season.

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