Sunderland Out as Laker Announcer

Times Staff Writer

Paul Sunderland was informed Monday that the Lakers will not bring him back as their television play-by-play announcer.

He got the word from Laker executive vice president Frank Mariani, who handles the team's broadcasting deals.

Mariani did not say what the team's plans were regarding a new TV play-by-play announcer. But he did say he expected to re-sign commentator Stu Lantz, who has had that role for 18 seasons.

One possibility for the TV play-by-play job would be moving Joel Meyers from radio to TV and replacing Meyers on radio with Larry Burnett.

FSN West's Bill Macdonald is another possibility, either on TV or radio.

Sunderland said he was not told why his contract was not being renewed. One source said the Lakers' broadcast partners were upset with declining ratings, but that is mostly attributable to the team's performance this season.

Sunderland received a letter from Mariani on March 29 informing him that his contract, which expired at the end of the season, might not be renewed. There was a stipulation in Sunderland's contract that he be informed by April 1 if the Lakers were not sure they were going to re-sign him.

Such a stipulation is routine..

"Obviously I'm extremely disappointed," Sunderland said. "The Lakers have been and will always be an important part of my life. They've decided to go in a different direction, so that's what I will also do."

The letter Sunderland received March 29 informed him the Lakers wanted to explore their options.

Sunderland is only the second TV play-by-play announcer the L.A. Lakers have had. He followed the legendary Chick Hearn, who became the Lakers' first play-by-play announcer after the team moved to L.A. from Minneapolis in 1960.

Sunderland filled in for 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 an Encino service station.

Hearn died in August 2002 after a fall at his Encino home.

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