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Sunderland Gets One-Year Laker Deal

September 24, 2002|LARRY STEWART | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Paul Sunderland and the Lakers have agreed in principle on a deal that will make him the second play-by-play announcer the NBA team has had since it moved to Los Angeles from Minneapolis in 1960.

"Paul and the Lakers are satisfied with the terms that have been worked out," Sunderland's agent, Martin Mandel of San Francisco, said Monday night.

Mandel said he expected the contract to be signed today or Wednesday, with an announcement after that.

Sunderland will replace the legendary Chick Hearn, who died Aug. 5. Hearn began announcing Laker games during the playoffs in 1961, at the end of the team's first season in L.A.

Mandel declined to give terms of the agreement, and Sunderland and Laker officials would not comment.

But sources said it is a one-year contract in the $300,000 range.

"I will say that compared to what other NBA announcers make, it is a fair-market deal," Mandel said.

The one-year term was a sticking point in negotiations, sources said. The offer was made Friday and an agreement wasn't reached until late Monday.

It is believed the Lakers insisted on a one-year contract because they want to see how the local telecasts on Channel 9 and Fox Sports Net fare against ESPN telecasts this season before making a lengthy commitment.

Under the NBA's new national television contract with ABC, ESPN and Turner, local telecasts no longer will be protected by blackouts.

Perhaps another reason for a short-term contract is that the Lakers want to reevaluate Sunderland after he has a full season under his belt. Sunderland called 56 games last season when Hearn was sidelined by heart surgery and then hip surgery, and his work was generally well-received.

The Lakers will continue to simulcast games on television and radio with Sunderland and Stu Lantz, at least for one more season.

The Lakers' first exhibition game is Oct. 8, when they play the Clippers at Bakersfield. That game will be televised by Channel 9 and broadcast on flagship radio station KLAC (570).

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