Best- and Worst-Case Scenarios of Lakers Hiring Byron Scott

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Best- and Worst-Case Scenarios of Lakers Hiring Byron Scott
David Liam Kyle/Getty Images

Considering a couple of the contracts they have on the books, you can't blame the Los Angeles Lakers for being afraid of buyer's remorse.

They remain extremely cautious in their search for a head coach. They're the only team in the NBA without one, despite having interviewed Byron Scott three times.

Other names in the hunt include Mike Dunleavy and Kurt Rambis, but no one seems to have gained the same level of traction as Scott.

Unless someone comes from behind in this race, the former coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, New Orleans Hornets and New Jersey Nets will likely end up with the job.

What's the best- and worst-case scenarios for the Lakers with Scott at the helm? A look at his resume, as well as the history of this coaching search, offers some clues.

 

Best Case

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Having Kobe Bryant in your corner is always a step in the right direction for a coach. And if we can take Kobe at his word, he's already in Scott's corner.

A good relationship between coach and superstar is critical for team chemistry. For comparison's sake, look at how poorly Mike D'Antoni and Pau Gasol got along the last couple years. The Lakers' win-loss record (67-87 under D'Antoni) reflected that in many ways.

But it will take more than a strong relationship between Bryant and Scott to be successful. 

As a coach, Scott's had two seasons with at least 50 wins and two more with 49. Those teams were led by arguably the best point guards in the league at the time—Jason Kidd in 2001-02 and 2002-03, and Chris Paul in 2007-08 and 2008-09.

That kind of point guard isn't on the current Lakers roster. Jeremy Lin is solid, but he's no Kidd or Paul.

Is there another player who could take on that mantle?

Scott's suggestion that Bryant changes the way he plays sounds like a coach who doesn't want a 36-year-old volume shooter.

Fortunately, Bryant may already be trending toward being more of a playmaker. Since the start of the 2012-13 season, Bryant has averaged six assists. In the 16 seasons prior to that, he averaged 4.7.

If he's committed to making his teammates better—and there's plenty of room for improvement among the players on this roster—the Lakers could take a step forward this season.

That's all relative, though, as the Lakers went just 27-55 in 2013-14. A step forward would be somewhere between 30 and 35 wins.

The team is marginally improved thanks to the additions of Lin and Carlos Boozer, but losing Gasol makes it a two-steps-forward, one-step-back situation.

Scott's coaching alone isn't enough to neutralize that. If you take out the four seasons listed above, his career record is 210-399.

 

Worst Case

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If that best-case scenario doesn't sound great, then it's because it's not. But it could certainly be much worse.

Lakers fans are not accustomed to mediocrity, and another season below that level could send them off the rails.

They're already unhappy with this offseason's moves, according to Bleacher Report's Kevin Ding:

In Boozer, the Lakers got a solid NBA player for a below-average salary—a bid of $3.25 million, per ESPN.com's Marc Stein—in an honest attempt to win more next season.

Yet the move was greeted with a chorus of criticism in some quarters of Lakers fandom, claiming that anyone another club is paying not to play for it is just embarrassing. It's beneath the royal Lakers to add another team's castoffs, as it was unseemly to let the Houston Rockets use them as a Jeremy Lin salary-dumping ground—even if the move netted the guaranteed profit of a free first-round pick.

If Bryant doesn't take well to changing the way he plays, Lin struggles under the weight of a role like Kidd's or Paul's and Boozer remains a defensive liability, "some quarters" will become the vast majority of Laker Nation.

If that happens, then this team, which is always in win-now mode, will feel pressure to find a coach who can turn things around. Don't believe that? Ask Mike Brown, who was fired by the Lakers five games into the 2012-13 season.

It's hard to imagine the Lakers doing that again with Scott—firing and then paying another coach who isn't actually coaching (they eventually got off the hook when Brown was hired by Cleveland).

And this time around, I'm sure the team already understands that losses are going to pile up in the ultra competitive Western Conference. Expectations were significantly higher for Brown's 2012-13 squad that included Dwight Howard, a healthy Steve Nash and Gasol.

But it's hard to say any prediction is too extreme with the Lakers.

 

Which Will It Be?

David Liam Kyle/Getty Images

Best case or worst case? In my very best politician voice, I'll say somewhere in the middle.

The Lakers will be able to win right around the same number of games they did last season—maybe five more.

Most fans aren't going to like that and neither will Bryant. But they'll have to work through it. Even the Lakers would have a hard time finding justification for parting ways with a third straight coach before his contract is up.

It's time to make a decision and commit to it. No more buyer's remorse.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all stats are courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com and NBA.com.

Andy Bailey covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him @AndrewDBailey.

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