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Los Angeles Lakers: Why Kupchak Should Hire Byron Scott to Right the Ship

Byron Scott is currently considered to be a favorite for the LA Lakers head coaching position.
Byron Scott is currently considered to be a favorite for the LA Lakers head coaching position.Tony Dejak/Associated Press
Bryan KalbroskyCorrespondent IJune 29, 2014

The Los Angeles Lakers are the only team in the NBA that does not currently have a head coach for the upcoming season.

In a story by USA Today's Sam Amick, the Lakers reportedly did not believe that it was “a necessity to have a coach” before the recent 2014 NBA Draft. Amick also explained that the franchise has already interviewed six former head coaches for the vacant coaching spot: Byron Scott, Lionel Hollins, Mike Dunleavy, Kurt Rambis, George Karl and Alvin Gentry.

Hollins is considered to be the favorite for the Houston Rockets gig, via ESPN's Marc Stein; Rambis is rumored to join Derek Fisher and Phil Jackson as an assistant for the New York Knicks, according to B/R's Howard Beck; and Gentry recently joined Steve Kerr’s new staff for the Golden State Warriors.

So who’s the right fit for the empty Lakers position? Los Angeles is coming off their worst season in franchise history since moving to the city. Before the draft, not only did the Lakers lack a coach, but they also lacked much of a roster as well...with only three players under contract for next season: Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Robert Sacre.

Yet, somehow, there’s still a general mood of confidence surrounding the team. 

GM Mitch Kupchak: "We're still going to pitch that this is a championship franchise."
GM Mitch Kupchak: "We're still going to pitch that this is a championship franchise."Nick Ut/Associated Press/Associated Press/Associated Press

"We're still going to pitch that this is a championship franchise and that's going to be our goal," said Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak, according to ESPN.com's Dave McMenamin. "As long as Kobe is on this team, we have to believe that we can contend for a championship." 

With that in mind, then, Kupchak may not need to look much further than the same guy who helped win three NBA Championships while playing for the Lakers: Byron Scott. In fact, Scott’s final year in the NBA (and with the Lakers) was Kobe Bryant’s rookie season, in which Scott provided a mentorship role for the young star. 

"I think the Kobe relationship is going to play a big part," Scott recently told Amick. “He knows that I'm an old-school coach who's very demanding on the defensive end and knows that defense and rebounding wins championships.” 

Scott, who currently works as an analyst for the Lakers television network, grew up in Inglewood and watched his hometown team play nearby at The Forum. After playing 11 seasons for the Lakers, he began an impressive coaching career. His resume includes consecutive appearances in the NBA Championship (2002, 2003) with the New Jersey Nets as well as an NBA Coach of the Year Award (2008) with the New Orleans Hornets

Mike D'Antoni is the only coach in Lakers history not to register a playoff win in his first two seasons with the team.
Mike D'Antoni is the only coach in Lakers history not to register a playoff win in his first two seasons with the team.Eric Gay/Associated Press/Associated Press

He was long considered to be the favorite to replace Jackson once Jerry Buss needed a new head coach in Los Angeles. While Mike Brown and then Mike D’Antoni got the nod over him the two most recent times the position had become available, it may be time to finally give Scott the love that he deserves. 

"I think what they're going to probably try to do at the end of the day is hire the best coach possible to bring the organization back to the glory years," continued Scott, according to Amick. "I'm a little biased, because I think that person is me." 

For a team looking to rebuild while still maintaining their purple and gold pedigree, Scott may truly be a perfect fit to right the ship. Other likely candidates in the mix, like Rambis, for example, also have the Lakers background that D’Antoni and Brown lacked. 

Carmelo Anthony is a free agent this offseason and is expected to meet with the LA Lakers.
Carmelo Anthony is a free agent this offseason and is expected to meet with the LA Lakers.Frank Franklin II/Associated Press/Associated Press

Before moving to Los Angeles as an assistant coach, however, Rambis failed to record a 20-win season (15-67, 17-65) during his most recent stint as the head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves from 2009 until 2011. Rambis would lack much of the necessary allure to help bring in a marquee free agent to the Lakers in the next couple seasons. 

The ability to help bring in a superstar free agent to the Lakers is going to be a very high priority for the Los Angeles front office this offseason. 

“If any of those players do want to make a move, we're prepared,” said Kupchak on Thursday night, according to McMenamin. "And if we get word, when we're allowed to get word, we will go all out." 

In a recent story by Marc Spears on Yahoo! Sports, for example, one source said that "there is currently no frontrunner" for where coveted free agent Carmelo Anthony will land.

Spears reports that Anthony is expected to meet with the Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Rockets, Knicks and, of course, the Lakers. The report also says that Anthony, who has an offseason home in L.A., hopes to make his decision on where he will sign during the second week of July. 

Perhaps Kupchak is waiting to hire a coach until free agents like Anthony, Chris Bosh, Pau Gasol and even LeBron James make their decisions about their homes for next season. 

That way, the coaching decision can be made based on a sensible fit for whatever the roster may look like in Los Angeles in 2015. Perhaps, even, it could mean that the Lakers would ask valuable input from that key player. It seems like fans may still have to wait just a little while longer until they know who will be coaching for Los Angeles next season.

Regardless, Terra Esportes (h/t Lakers Nation) has reported that Kobe Bryant is “100 percent” healthy for next season. And with first-round pick (and lifelong Lakers fan) Julius Randle already excited to take the floor at Staples Center, the rebranding effort would undoubtedly thrive under the leadership of this Lakers legend: Byron Scott. 

"I do think that they know how wearing that purple and gold, being a member of their family, that Laker family, is an important issue,” Scott told Amick. “I think they'll look at that and consider that as well."

Bryan Kalbrosky is a freelance journalist that has previously been published by The Huffington Post, Yahoo! Sports, ESPN Denver and Tumblr Sports. To follow more of his adventures, be sure to follow him on Twitter @Bryan Kalbrosky.


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