Tomjanovich set to coach Lakers
Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) – Rudy Tomjanovich will be the new head coach
of the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Lakers said a verbal agreement has been reached with the former Houston
Rockets coach, who was reportedly set to fly to Los Angeles Friday night. He
is expected to sign the deal Saturday morning and will likely be introduced at
a press conference later in the day.
The Los Angeles Times reported Friday that Tomjanovich has agreed to a deal
believed to be worth about $30 million over five years.
Tomjanovich will replace Phil Jackson, who led the Lakers to three NBA titles
in his five seasons with Los Angeles. Jackson and club management mutually
agreed to part ways on June 18, just days after the Detroit Pistons upset the
heavily-favored Lakers in five games to claim the NBA crown.
The Lakers interviewed Tomjanovich late last month, then had serious talks
with Duke University head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who decided to remain with
Tomjanovich led the Rockets to consecutive NBA titles in 1994 and ’95, but
stepped down as the club’s head coach in May 2003 after 12 years at the helm.
He took a medical leave of absence during the 2002-03 season to treat bladder
The 55-year-old Tomjanovich posted a record of 503-397 during his tenure with
Houston. He spent last season as a scout for the Rockets, marking his 34th
year with the organization.
The San Diego Rockets made Tomjanovich the second overall selection in the
1970 draft and he started the franchise’s first game in Houston on October 14,
Ironically, Tomjanovich’s career nearly came to an end in Los Angeles during a
game on December 9, 1977 when he incurred severe facial fractures after taking
a punch from Lakers forward Kermit Washington.
Tomjanovich, who returned to play the following season while wearing a
protective mask, filed a civil suit against the Lakers. The two sides agreed
to a $2 million settlement.