After being interviewed three times during the three months after the Lakers parted ways with former head coach Mike D’Antoni, the Los Angeles Lakers have reached an agreement with Byron Scott to be their next head coach. The deal is worth a reported $17 million over four years, with a team option on the final season.
Lakers owner Jim Buss made Scott a verbal offer on Thursday and Scott and his representatives were reviewing it before okaying the contract this weekend.
Scott stated that he spent last year analyzing Lakers games for Time Warner Cable SportsNet, so he’s more than familiar with the team’s returning players.
“It feels fantastic,” Scott said. “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 (Lakers general manager) Mitch (Kupchak), (Lakers president and governor) Jeanie (Buss) and (executive vice president of player personnel) Jim Buss to give me this opportunity.”
“I really believe that they wanted to do the diligence and to make sure that I was the right guy…I know there were other candidates out there, and I felt like that with each meeting I thought was better and better, and I felt like they had a better understanding of what I was all about. I thought that the last few hires in their minds, they were a little hasty with, and so on this one, they took their time to make sure I was the right guy for this situation. Again, I think it worked out well for both sides.”
The Lakers organization chose to handle the draft and free agency first before making an ultimate decision on their next head coach. While the likes of Kurt Rambis, George Karl, Lionel Hollins Mike Dunleavy and others were considered, none had the combination of extensive head coaching experience and deep Lakers roots that they were clearly looking for like Scott.
As a coach, Scott is 937-416 in the regular season and 33-24 in the playoffs while coaching the New Jersey Nets (2000-04), New Orleans Hornets (2004-09) and Cleveland Cavaliers (2010-13). Scott also played a key role for the Lakers as a player by helping them win three of their five NBA championships in the 1980s.
Lakers star Kobe Bryant has endorsed hiring Scott. The two were Lakers teammates in 1996 when Bryant was a rookie. His ties with Bryant and the organization no doubt played a role in him getting the job.
Even though the Lakers weren’t able to net one of the big stars in free agency, there are some young talented players on the roster, but it’ll be a challenge for Scott to make the pieces fit. With the Western Conference as strong as it is, he’s signing up for at least one extremely difficult season. The Lakers will try to land another star next summer, and if that fails, they’ll have all the cap space in the world in 2016 when Bryant’s mammoth contract expires.
Bryant wants to be as competitive as possible in between now and then, though, and that’s why Scott has such a tough task. This might be his dream job, but with an aging superstar and a pile of one-way players, this is no coach’s dream situation.
I think Byron Scott was the only coach out there built for this task. Let’s see what happens.