Frank Hamblen faces uncertain future

Phil Jackson is retired, we think.

The Los Angeles Lakers season is over, we know.

But that's about all the certainty in longtime assistant coach Frank Hamblen's world these days.

"I'm not looking to retire yet," said Hamblen, who has been with the Lakers for 12 years and is the longest-tenured assistant coach in the NBA.

"I think I have a good two or three years left in me. So I just have to wait and see what [the Lakers] do, and keep my options open."

Hamblen, 64, played a key role on Jackson's staff for seven of his 11 NBA titles. He also coached the Lakers for the last three months of the 2005 season, after Rudy Tomjanovich abruptly stepped down.

Like all the members of the Lakers' coaching staff this season, his contract runs through the end of June.

And, like everyone associated with the team, he'd planned on coaching through the middle of June as the team chased a three-peat.

"I've been home a couple of weeks now and I'm getting kind of bored," Hamblen joked of the unexpected downtime following the Lakers' unceremonious second-round exit from the playoffs.

"I haven't scattered anywhere. I've got nothing but doctors and dentists appointments going on."

Hamblen said he's been given no indication of what direction the Lakers are leaning in their search to replace Jackson. He'd obviously be open to a return if he were asked back by whomever the new coach is.

He said he's received interest from at least one other team, but those discussions are still preliminary.

Fellow assistant coaches Brian Shaw and Chuck Person are candidates to replace Jackson, and for several other coaching vacancies around the league. Jim Cleamons has previously stated he'd like to pursue head-coaching opportunities at the collegiate level. The Los Angeles Times also reported this week that he's had discussions with the Puerto Rican national team.

Ramona Shelburne is a columnist and writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com.