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West will retire from Lakers, become team’s consultant

L.A. Times reports Jackson will have more roster input

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LOS ANGELES — Jerry West, part of seven NBA championships in four decades as a player, coach and executive with the Lakers, will retire Monday.

The Los Angeles Times, citing unidentified league and team sources, said West, now executive vice president, will continue as a consultant. The newspaper also said he might return at some point in an executive position.

West, known as "Mr. Clutch," won a championship with the Lakers as a player and six more as an executive. He was an NBA great in 14 seasons as a player, starting in 1961 after he was drafted out of West Virginia.

West also coached the team for three seasons before moving into the front office.

Former Lakers coach Kurt Rambis is expected to become assistant general manager under Mitch Kupchak, and the newspaper said coach Phil Jackson will have a stronger say in roster decisions.

Kupchak, expected to assume most of West's duties, Rambis and Lakers spokesman John Black declined comment.

West previously signed a four-year contract extension that runs through the 2002-2003 season. The deal reportedly is worth $3.5 million annually.

He has repeatedly talked about leaving, most recently after the Lakers won the NBA championship in June. West has said he was worn down by the pressure to succeed and by complaints.

The Long Beach Press-Telegram reported last month that West, a notorious perfectionist, suffers from an irregular heartbeat caused by nervous tension.

Because of the condition, he did not attend any of the Lakers' championship-round games against the Indiana Pacers.

He only learned the outcome of the sixth game — which gave the team its first title in 12 years — from a friend who called on a cellular telephone.