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Jackson returns to coach Lakers

Associated Press / July 4, 2009
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Phil Jackson will return to coach the Los Angeles Lakers next season, getting a clean bill of health following a record championship season.

The Hall of Fame coach turns 64 in September and said on the team’s website yesterday he got the go-ahead for another season after consulting the team doctor.

Jackson led the Lakers to their 15th NBA championship and his 10th title in June, breaking the mark he shared with Red Auerbach.

“I feel confident that I can gainfully pursue an NBA season with another long playoff postseason,’’ he said. “All things point to go!’’

He signed a two-year contract extension last season and holds the option on a second year.

Last season, Jackson missed two West Coast road games because of pain and swelling in his lower legs caused by plantar fasciitis, a problem he had checked out. He blamed late-night flights that aggravated the condition.

He has undergone two hip replacement operations since October 2006 - using a cane at various times - and walks with a noticeable hitch in his step. He underwent an angioplasty in 2003 to open a clogged artery in his heart.

Jackson became the Lakers’ coach in 1999, and guided the team to NBA titles in each of his first three seasons. He left following the 2003-04 season but returned the following season.

Jackson coached the Chicago Bulls to six championships in the 1990s. His .705 regular-season winning percentage is tops in league history and his 1,041 victories are sixth best.

Contract talks stop
Free agent forward Hedo Turkoglu and the Portland Trail Blazers have ended contract talks, a person close to the team confirmed.

The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the negotiations.

Turkoglu’s agent, Lon Babby, didn’t immediately return calls or e-mails.

The 6-foot-10-inch forward who helped the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals arrived in Portland Thursday to meet Blazers executives and tour the city. He was scheduled to leave today.

He opted out of his Orlando contract last week when the team acquired Vince Carter from New Jersey. Turkoglu was due $7.3 million next season in the final year of his $36 million, six-year deal with Orlando. He averaged 16.8 points and 5.3 rebounds last season.

Earlier, there were reports that Turkoglu had agreed in principle with the Blazers.

This season, Turkoglu often ran Orlando’s offense and created matchup problems for the Celtics and Cavaliers in the playoffs. Against the Lakers in the Finals, Turkoglu averaged 18 points. He was said to be seeking a long-term deal worth at least $10 million annually.

Yao must wait on surgery
Houston Rockets All-Star center Yao Ming will have to wait up to a week before he knows whether he will need surgery on his broken left foot.

The playing future of the 7-6 Yao is in question amid reports from the team doctor that the hairline fracture in his foot could keep him out all of next season, and potentially end his career.

“It hasn’t been decided yet,’’ Yao’s agent, Eric Zhang, told the Associated Press. “He is still in the process of group consultations of doctors holding different opinions and different plans. The result of the consultations is due within a week.’’

Before that there is no way of telling whether surgery will be performed, Zhang said.

“We are still in the information gathering period,’’ he said.

Yao sustained a hairline fracture of the tarsal navicular bone late in a May 8 playoff game against the Lakers. The Rockets said last week that the injury has not healed and he was out indefinitely.

Yao played in 77 regular-season games in 2008-09, his most injury-free year since 2004-05, when he played in 80.

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