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Saturday, July 3, 2010

Jackson to coach Lakers again next season

LOS ANGELES (AP) After just one relaxing week in Montana, Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson decided he can handle another season of the NBA grind.

News photo
Sticking around: Phil Jackson, winner of a record 11 NBA titles as a coach, will return to lead the champion Los Angeles Lakers again next season. AP PHOTO

The two-time defending champions locked up their most important free agent of the summer Thursday when Jackson announced he'll return next season, putting off retirement for at least another year to chase his 12th NBA title.

Jackson said last week he was worn out and leaning toward retirement after the Lakers' third straight long season culminating in the NBA Finals. He changed his mind after a week of rest and health evaluation at his offseason home, signing up for the unprecedented chance to win three consecutive NBA championships for the fourth time in his career.

"Count me in," Jackson said. "After a couple weeks of deliberation, it is time to get back to the challenge of putting together a team that can defend its title in the 2010-11 season. It'll be the last stand for me, and I hope a grand one."

Jackson, who will turn 65 later this year, is the winningest coach in playoff history and the most successful coach in NBA history by almost any measure.

He has a league-best .705 regular-season winning percentage, a record 225 postseason victories and two more titles than Boston's Red Auerbach, winning five championships with Kobe Bryant's Lakers and six with Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls. His 1,098 regular-season victories are fifth-most in league history.

The Lakers beat the Celtics in Game 7 of the NBA Finals last month to claim their second straight title, wrapping up a season in which Jackson navigated Bryant, Pau Gasol and wild-card newcomer Ron Artest through numerous injuries to win the franchise's 16th title.

Bucks land Gooden

MILWAUKEE (AP) Everyone who thought the Milwaukee Bucks would be among the most active teams on the first day of NBA free agency, please raise your hands.

The Bucks made a surprising early splash Thursday, agreeing in principle to a five-year, $32 million deal with free agent forward Drew Gooden.

Agent Stu Lash said that Gooden agreed to sign with the Bucks for the mid-level exception. Gooden is represented by Lash and Dan Fegan of Lagardere-Unlimited.

"One of the things that attracted Drew to Milwaukee was the stability, from the front office to the coaching staff," Lash said.

Stability has been sorely lacking for Gooden, who was taken by Memphis with the No. 4 overall pick out of Kansas in the 2002 draft.

The eight-year pro has played for eight teams, including the Clippers and Mavericks last season. He has averaged 11.9 points and 7.9 rebounds per game but hasn't managed to stick anywhere.

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