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Sunderland May Not Be Asked Back

Laker television announcer Paul Sunderland learned Tuesday that the team might not renew his contract, which expires at the end of the season.

Frank Mariani, Laker executive vice president in charge of broadcasting, said Sunderland’s contract has a stipulation that he be notified by April 1 if the Lakers do not plan to re-sign him.

“We want to keep our options open,” Mariani said, “and we were contractually bound to let Paul know that.”

Exactly what options the Lakers planned to explore, Mariani did not say. But he did say re-signing Sunderland was one of the options.

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Sunderland, only the second TV play-by-play announcer the Lakers have had, filled in for Chick Hearn for 56 games during the 2001-02 season while Hearn recovered from heart surgery and then a broken hip suffered in a fall at a service station.

Hearn died in August 2002 after a fall at his Encino home. Sunderland subsequently signed a one-year contract to replace the legendary announcer. Sunderland then signed a two-year contract before the 2003-04 season.

Sunderland declined to comment before Tuesday night’s game against the New York Knicks.


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