RAMBIS SENT PACKING: Kurt Rambis quietly slipped in and out of the head coach's office the weekend after Phil Jackson was hired, packing and vacating the space for the Lakers' new leader.
On Monday, Rambis was invited back there -- only to be told that Jackson didn't want him to stay on even as an assistant.Jackson told Rambis, the Lakers' interim head coach last season, and former Lakers assistant coaches Larry Drew and Bill Bertka on Monday that he planned to assemble a staff of coaches with which he is more familiar.
Jim Cleamons and Jimmy Rodgers are expected to be hired, and Tex Winter, Johnny Bach and John Paxson, other former Jackson assistants in Chicago, also are possibilities for the four positions.
The Lakers have offered Rambis, Drew and Bertka unspecified front-office jobs for the 1999-2000 season. Rambis said he rather would find another coaching job, but as of Monday wasn't sure what he was going to do.
FINALS RATINGS DOWN: It was no surprise television ratings slipped for the NBA Finals. The shock was how far they fell.
After Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls helped NBC post record numbers in last season's finals, this year's ratings were the lowest in 18 years.
The five-game average between the San Antonio Spurs and New York Knicks was an 11.3 national rating and a 21 share, down 40 percent from last year's final series.
"We knew going in that the casual fan would be a much tougher draw without the best known man in the world," NBC spokesman Ed Markey said. "We knew it would be an uphill climb."
Friday night's Game 5, in which the Spurs wrapped up their first NBA title, recorded a 11.0-22, down 44 percent from last season's fifth game.
The 1998 NBA Finals between Jordan's Chicago Bulls and the Utah Jazz went six games and had a 18.7 rating -- the highest in league history.
The last time the NBA Finals finished with a lower rating than this season was in 1981. However, none of the six games that season between the Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets was aired in prime time by CBS.