Updates from Monday, July 28
On Monday night Byron Scott officially became the next Lakers head coach the team announced on their website via a press release:
The Los Angeles Lakers have signed Byron Scott to a multi-year contract as head coach, it was announced today by General Manager Mitch Kupchak. Per team policy, terms of the agreement were not released.
“After an extensive and thorough search, we’re proud to welcome Byron back to the Lakers family as our next head coach,” said Kupchak. “Byron has proven himself at the highest levels of the game as both a player and a coach in his almost 30 years of NBA experience. His leadership skills and track record for success make him the ideal person to lead this franchise forward.”
Scott also released a statement:
“I am ecstatic to once again be a Laker and to have the opportunity to work alongside Mitch and the Buss family,” said Scott. “I know firsthand what it takes to bring a championship to this city, and as someone who both grew up in L.A. and played the majority of my career here, I know how passionate and dedicated our fans are. I will give everything I have to fulfill the championship expectations that our supporters have for us, and that we have for ourselves.”
Late in his playing career, Byron Scott played mentor to an up-and-coming 18-year-old named Kobe Bryant. Nearly two decades later, Scott will again take to the bench to mentor Bryant—this time as the Los Angeles Lakers head coach.
ESPN's Ramona Shelburne reported the news:
Lakers have agreed to terms with Byron Scott to be their next head coach— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) July 27, 2014
Lakers deal with Byron Scott will be four years, $17 million— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) July 27, 2014
ESPN's Chris Broussard confirmed the report.
CBS Los Angeles' Jim Hill has Scott's thoughts on his new job:
It feels fantastic. This is a dream come true. I always wanted to coach the Lakers, especially when I got to coaching. It's so unreal. I have to thank Mitch, Jeanie and Jim Buss to give me this opportunity.
ESPN's Arash Markazi has an interesting note about the hire:
Byron Scott is the seventh former Laker to take over as the team's head coach.— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) July 27, 2014
Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News reports when Scott's press conference may be:
I'm told Byron Scott hopes to have his press conference on Monday. But not clear at this point— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) July 27, 2014
True Hoop's Seerat Sohi really likes the hire:
Byron Scott is a good long term hire for LAL because not too many people are *really* gonna care when he's eventually scapegoated— Seerat Sohi (@DamianTrillard) July 27, 2014
Scott and the Lakers agreed to terms on a four-year contract on Saturday, ending the most elongated coaching search of the summer. The 53-year-old former NBA shooting guard is the 25th different person to man the Lakers bench. Including Bernie Bickerstaff, Scott is the fourth since Phil Jackson left his post for a second time in 2011.
To put it mildly: The Lakers franchise Scott joins in 2014 is far different than the ascending bunch he left upon retiring after the 1996-97 season.
The coaching search itself was a unique exercise that highlighted the uncertainty in Los Angeles. The Lakers were the last franchise to hire a coach by a wide margin, and did so by design as they look to retool around free-agent acquisitions and trades for veteran players. Scott interviewed for the position three times, and many considered him the front-runner due to his Lakers ties.
ESPN's Ramona Shelburne reported the lack of urgency stemmed from the organization's desire to dangle a choose-your-coach carrot at prospective free agents. Given the dearth of talent currently on the roster and the front office's unwillingness to relinquish power, the prospect of a package deal in July seemed an intriguing strategy.
It just didn't work out.
Carmelo Anthony, who at one point seriously considered a move to L.A., stayed with the Knicks. LeBron James all but locked himself into a lifetime contract in Cleveland by returning to the Cavs. Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade stayed behind in Miami, while the Lakers showed little interest in the Chandler Parsonses, Isaiah Thomases and Lance Stephensons of the world. They instead took on Jeremy Lin's contract in exchange for the rights to European center Sergei Lishchuk and signed Jordan Hill and Nick Young to team-friendly contracts.
Scott is a well-respected voice among players who should ingratiate himself to the middling roster. The front office also liked that Scott, who worked for the Lakers television network last season, shares a mutual respect with Bryant.
"Our relationship is great," Scott told USA Today's Sam Amick of Bryant. "We talked over the summer. We text each other. His ideas on the game of basketball and my ideas on the game of basketball are a lot alike, so we share a lot of the same views when it comes to the way the game should be played. So to me, it's going to be fun."
Bryant publicly endorsed Scott when answering questions at his youth basketball academy earlier this month.
"He was my rookie mentor when I first came into the league," Bryant told reporters, via ESPN LA's Dave McMenamin. "So I had to do things like get his doughnuts and run errands for him and things like that. We've had a tremendously close relationship throughout the years. So, obviously I know him extremely well. He knows me extremely well. I've always been a fan of his."
Scott's record as a head coach is more sketchy. In parts of 13 seasons with the Nets, Hornets and Cavaliers, Scott has compiled a 416-521 record (.444 winning percentage) and has just four playoff appearances. Two of those postseason berths resulted in back-to-back conference championships with New Jersey in the early 2000s, but his performance since those Nets teams has left a lot to be desired.
While he got along with star Chris Paul in New Orleans, the organization grew impatient with Scott's inability to push the team to the next level. Cleveland was an out-and-out mess when Scott took over in the post-Decision debacle, and he never won more than 24 games in three seasons. Kyrie Irving and Paul both count him as instrumental to their development, though, so it's fair to wonder whether he got a raw deal in his last two stops.
The Lakers sure hope so.
Once the kings of Los Angeles, the Lakers look across the hall at the co-tenant Clippers, their two superstars and their head coach and have to be envious. Over the past couple of seasons—especially in 2013-14—it's almost as if the roles have reversed. The Lakers are overpaying decaying veterans, have depleted what's left of their assets and are hoping to get back into contention with one or two moves. The Clippers are one or two good breaks away from a championship.
With Bryant unrealistically calling for instant contention and the fanbase itching for positive signs, someone like Scott may be the type of personality who can assuage concerns. Or he might be the latest misstep in the darkest Lakers era in recent memory.
No pressure or anything.