After a lengthy wait, the Los Angeles Lakers finally have direction.
Granted, the objective Mitch Kupchak and Co. have directed since the conclusion to one of the worst seasons in franchise history has been rather apparent even without a head coach in place—forget 2014, because the money is in future free agencies.
With Kobe Bryant still on the roster and ready to go, Kupchak and the front office had a brief flirtation with superstars such as Carmelo Anthony before setting the course for 2015 free agency, and they subsequently selected Byron Scott as the man to brave the tough waters.
Here are the details of the long-awaited decision and some potential consequences that have cropped up after the fact.
Byron Scott Finally Joins the Rebuild
Really, Scott's job is an attractive one.
His new gig happens to be in one of the NBA's biggest markets for a legendary franchise. He gets to work closely with future Hall of Famers Steve Nash and Bryant. He gets to bring along an elite young prospect, this year's No. 7 overall pick, Julius Randle.
Should he survive what is sure to be a rocky season in a loaded conference, he gets to help pursue superstars like Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rajon Rondo and other big names set to become restricted free agents.
So yes, his satisfaction with the gig is genuine.
"It feels fantastic," he told Jim Hill of KCBS-TV (h/t ESPN's Ramona Shelburne). "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 [general manager] Mitch [Kupchak], Jeanie and Jim Buss to give me this opportunity."
It's all positive vibes at the moment, but as ESPN Stats & Info illustrates, the odds are not exactly stacked in his favor:
Byron Scott is the 7th former Laker to become coach. Of the previous 6 only Pat Riley & Jerry West coached more than 1 season with LA.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 27, 2014
By all accounts, Scott is perfect for the job. He better be—Kupchak made him go through three interviews.
A somewhat harsh disciplinarian and close friend of Bryant's, Scott will show some tough love to rookies such as Randle and erratic personalities such as Nick Young. His knack for defense will help to alter the culture in theory, as long as he can survive more than one season.
Steve Nash's Future
At 40 years of age, Nash is in a position where the wrong coaching decision could have encouraged him to hang up the sneakers, despite a contract that pays him $9.7 million this year, per Spotrac.
As it currently stands, the hire has had no impact on Nash's career status, as he told Sport TV, via Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News: "I think this is my last season," Nash said. "But I still love to play, practice and work on my game. I'm going to spend hopefully many many years living this life without basketball. It'll be nice to play one more year."
Scott's reaction to the news should be nothing short of elation. Yes, the numbers in Nash's two seasons with the team are both sparse and discouraging:
But, Nash is a critical presence to have around to mentor young players such as Jeremy Lin and Jordan Clarkson. The former has a career that is all but on life support after wasting away in Houston, and the latter is a second-round pick who has shown great promise this summer.
Take a moment to view it through a long-term lens. The Lakers, and Scott presumably, have the future in mind and have cash to spend. Nash has a contract that is a tad much for a 40-year-old point guard, but his value for the future of the franchise itself is more than worth the asking price.
Nash sounds as if he will be off the books by next offseason, which means free space to invest and a year of knowledge gained from one of the greatest of all time. That can only be chalked up as a win.
Lineup Wrinkles and Potential Additions
One of the more interesting facets of Scott taking the mantle is how it impacts the movable pieces on the roster.
Such as the discarded Carlos Boozer, who many figured would play down low at the 4-spot next to center Jordan Hill while Randle rotated in and gained experience off the bench.
Apparently not, according to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times:
"Boozer is penciled in as the Lakers' starting small forward. He will be in the final year of his contract and will be paid $13.5 million by the Bulls."
Now that is a bit of a strange pencil, and hopefully one that comes with a strong eraser.
Look, Boozer has plenty to offer in the paint, but his guarding elite small forwards every night does not make a ton of sense, not only because he is 32 years old, but also because Young was recently re-signed and should have that starting spot locked down.
Either way, Scott is not the only person with high expectations for the former Duke standout, as captured by Serena Winters of Lakers Nation:
Kobe's message to Carlos Boozer: Come ready. Come ready to surprise some people.— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) July 25, 2014
We know Bryant. He is normally a ferocious competitor, but especially coming into this season after having so much time ruined by injury. Bryant and Scott are sure to create an infectious competitive fire across the roster, so a renaissance of sorts for Boozer is in no way out of the question.
Scott's arrival has a bit of a new, brimming energy alive on the West Coast. The conference is deep, but fans might not want to put anything past Bryant and a host of veterans with something to prove.