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Phil Jackson foresees a coaching change in Miami if losses continue

Lakers coach says he could see Pat Riley replacing Erik Spoelstra eventually if Heat doesn't turn it around after starting 8-6. He cites pressure of expectations with roster that includes LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.

November 23, 2010|By Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner

If the ugly losses keep washing ashore on South Beach, Phil Jackson thinks a coaching change will take place for the Miami Heat.

Picked to win the NBA championship by Las Vegas oddsmakers almost immediately after they brought LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade into the same locker room, Miami has struggled mightily, sitting at a forlorn 8-6 after a stunning 93-77 loss at home Monday against Indiana.

"I don't think it'll happen like we're talking about it tomorrow or anything like that," Jackson said of the Heat bringing Pat Riley down from the front office to replace Erik Spoelstra. "But I think eventually if things don't turn around, the weight's going to fall there where, 'We were promised this successes and we were hoping for it' and I think there'll be a real drive for the players to have some kind of change. It's easier to change coaches than it would be to change teams after they made all those player adjustments. "

How bad was Monday's loss? Wade made one of 13 shots and had more turnovers (five) than points (three).

Not that Jackson has been overly surprised by Miami's slow start.

"They haven't had really an opportunity to get it all together," he said. "They still need another couple weeks … to kind of figure out the roles and how they're going to do it."

The Heat on Tuesday signed free-agent Erick Dampier to replace injured reserve center Udonis Haslem, but the pressure will remain squarely on Miami.

"You knew that was going to be a team that was going to be a lot of drama," Jackson said. "You saw that the schedule was being held off by the NBA to figure out how they're going to accommodate the television and how they're going to make that entertainment work for them."

If success leads to envy by others, the Lakers have felt the sting of jealousy plenty of times during Jackson's tenure.

Now maybe it's Miami's turn to withstand mountains of scorn, though more because of how the team came together in July, not because of how it's played in November.

"I think a lot of people are looking at that, kind of hoping that things go wrong instead of hoping things go right because of the way they were formed," Jackson said.

Another green light

Center Andrew Bynum, who still is recovering from right knee surgery that has kept him out all season, had an MRI exam on Tuesday that showed the procedure he had last July went well, a Lakers spokesman said.

The Lakers said nothing had changed with the results from the surgery. Bynum has said he will return to practice in a week or two.

"He remains back on track," Lakers spokesman John Black said.

Bynum, who had surgery to repair a torn cartilage in his knee, will continue to get therapy and see how his progress goes.

He has been cleared to jump and dunk, but now Bynum expects to be able to do some lateral-movement drills.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

twitter.com/Mike_Bresnahan

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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