Byron Scott Says Luke Walton Did Great Job with Lakers 'Under the Circumstances'

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 18, 2019

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton in the second half during an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns, Saturday, March 2, 2019, in Phoenix. The Suns defeated the Lakers 118-109.(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton has come under fire for the team's struggles this year, but former coach Byron Scott defended his effort this season.

"I think Luke did a great job under the circumstances," Scott told TMZ Sports. "... He's in a situation that's extremely, extremely tough."

Los Angeles has effectively fallen out of the playoff race and enters Monday with just a 31-39 record, well below expectations after signing LeBron James in the offseason.

While the front office has continued to defend Walton publicly, he "will almost certainly be dismissed after the [2018-19] season," according to Marc Stein of the New York Times.

"At the end of the day, I can tell you this from past experience, coach is always first to go," Scott said. "That's just how it is."

Scott spent two seasons as head coach of the Lakers, producing a 38-126 record before being fired in 2016. He was replaced by Walton, who now has a 92-142 record in just under three seasons.

While this is disappointing for a franchise that expects to compete for championships, the circumstances were difficult this year, as Scott noted.

James missed over a month of action because of a groin injury, killing the momentum of a team that had been playing its best basketball at the time. Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Rajon Rondo also missed long stretches of time because of injury (Ball and Ingram have since been ruled out for the season).

This prevented the team from climbing up the standings earlier in the year, and it fell apart down the stretch. 

Scott still thinks Walton will be out of a job by the offseason, but he hopes the coach gets another opportunity somewhere down the line.