Byron Scott: If I Coach LA Lakers, Kobe Bryant Will 'Have to Change His Game'

Grant Hughes@@gt_hughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistMay 23, 2014

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If Byron Scott is as interested in becoming the next head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers as he says he is, he's got a funny way of showing it.

ESPN's Chris Broussard reported that Scott interviewed with the Lakers on May 20, and Scott later confirmed that report on SiriusXM's Coach's Corner show.

Cut to the present, as Scott is now discussing his desire to coach his former team rather openly:

That's all great, and it certainly seems like there's a desire among Lakers fans to bring in a coach with ties to the franchise. After dealing with Mike D'Antoni, Purple and Gold loyalists want somebody who has a certain reverence for the organization.Β Scott clearly has that part covered.

But for a guy with such a deep appreciation and understanding of what it means to be a Laker, he's showing a pretty fundamental misunderstanding of how things work in L.A.:

Everyone knows Kobe Bryant changes for no man. Well, that's not entirely true; Phil Jackson managed to tame him to some degree. But for the most part, Bryant is who he is, and his game doesn't figure to change a whole lot.

That's as much a statement about Bryant's inherent confidence and stubbornness as it is an acknowledgment of his age.

He'll be 36 when the 2014-15 season begins, and there aren't too many players who make significant alterations to their game at that advanced stage. Fighting back from injury and waging war against Father Time might make it difficult for Bryant to do some of the things he used to, so it's possible he'll naturally make tweaks to compensate for waning physical skills.

But it's not a great idea for Scott to make a public demand of Bryant like this, especially notΒ before he's got the job.

After all, Bryant is still a universally revered figure in Lakers lore. If he isn't happy with some of the things Scott is saying, Scott won't get the job. And if you're at all skeptical about the amount of pull Bryant still has, consider his whopping two-year, $48.5 million extension.

He's going to be a big part of whatever the Lakers do from here on out, so Scott might think more carefully about endearing himself to Bryant.

Per Mike Bresnahan of theΒ Los Angeles Times:

But a key element in the selection process will be how the Lakers' next coach employs an aging Kobe Bryant.

Bryant and former Coach Mike D'Antoni never saw eye to eye on the way to run an offense. D'Antoni wanted to go with a small-ball approach while Bryant, and veteran Pau Gasol, preferred a more traditional post-up scheme.

Gasol criticized it openly while Bryant was less verbose, presumably because he played only six games due to injuries.

It's unclear how Scott wants Bryant to change his game, but if he's smart, the next Lakers head coach will do a little bit more listening than the last one.

And given the returning talent on the Lakers, it's possible Bryant would be best served by playing as much like his old self as possible. Steve Nash and Robert Sacre are the only two players guaranteed to be on the roster next season, and it's hard to imagine they'll provide much scoring punch.

Bryant may have to employ the same kind of high-volume, aggressive offensive style he's used for most of his NBA career. That wouldn't constitute much of a change, but unless L.A. goes out and finds scorers in free agency, Bryant could best serve the Lakers by firing away as much as possible.Β 

Credit Scott, though, for rightly criticizing L.A.'s defensive effort last year. The Lakers played with so little direction, passion and togetherness on D that they were flat out lucky to finish 28th in defensive rating, per NBA.com.

In plenty of other years, they'd have ranked dead last.

Fortunately, another Lakers legend supports Scott.

We'll see if a powerful ally will be enough to earn Scott a job he badly wants.


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