After finishing dead last in the Pacific division out west and posting their worst record in franchise history at 27-55 under coach Mike D'Antoni last season, the team has announced their newest hire. With D'Antoni resigning back on April 30, the Lakers have finally put an end to their head coaching vacancy nearly three months to the day with the announcement of a four-year, $17 Million contract agreement with Byron Scott. With both free agency and the NBA Draft the top priorities during the early stages of the NBA offseason for the Lakers, GM Mitch Kupchak decided to hold off on hiring a head coach until the dust settled as the game's top free agents found homes. And with the Lakers failing to land either LeBron James or Carmello Anthony, both of whom they were willing to cater to and allow their voice to be heard in the hiring process for the next head coach, the team went on to offer the job to the man we knew they'd hire all along.
Though there were other interviewees which included George Karl, Kurt Rambis, Mike Dunleavy, Alvin Gentry and Lionel Hollins, the job was pretty much Scott's to lose from the get go. That became even more apparent as the interview process went on as Byron Scott returned for a second and third interview as most of the other candidates began signing elsewhere. With defense being a weak point for the team that failed to make the playoffs last season, the disciplinarian that Scott is known throughout the league to be should be a good fit for this Laker team. Scott also knows everything that needs to be known when under the bright lights of Hollywood. Not only does he know a thing or two about the franchise having played 10 seasons in L.A. and winning three titles with the "Showtime" Lakers, he's also quite familiar with the team he'll now be drawing up plays for as he served as an analyst on the Lakers' home station -- Time Warner Cable Sportsnet this past season.
But what might have been the decided factor overall is his relationship with Lakers star Kobe Bryant. Having once upon a time called Byron Scott a teammate of his during his rookie season with the Lakers in 1996, Kobe has credited his new coach as being a mentor of his and someone he's always had a great deal of respect for and has expressed his interest in playing under Scott if the opportunity presented itself. With the organization expecting success only to be left disappointed each of the last few seasons with both Mike Brown and Mike D'Antoni at the helm, fans weren't hesitant to let their frustration be known. But being one of their own, Byron Scott will get somewhat of a free pass from Laker fans during this rebuilding stage and won't be chased out of the door right away if say the Lakers fail to make the playoffs again. But that's not to say coach Scott is expecting anything short of success from the purple and gold this year.
Along with the new coaching staff, Laker fans will be seeing some new faces this season as well as some old ones. With Nick Young, Jordan Hill, Wesley Johnson, Xavier Henry and Ryan Kelly all re-signing to join Kobe, Steve Nash and Robert Sacre as returning players this year, the Lakers also made a few new acquisitions. After watching Pau Gasol walk via free agency and sign with the Chicago Bulls, the Lakers claimed former All-Star Carlos Boozer off amnesty waivers while also signing power forward Ed Davis. In need of some depth at the point guard position, the Lakers landed Jeremy Lin from the Houston Rockets along with a first and second round pick in next year's Draft. And last but not least is PF Julius Randle who the Lakers took with the seventh overall pick out of Kentucky in last month's Draft and second round pick Jordan Clarkson (Missouri, point guard) who L.A. acquired on draft night from the Washington Wizards.
Byron Scott's coaching resume includes two trips to the NBA Finals while with the then New Jersey Nets and a Coach of the Year Award (2008) with the then New Orleans Hornets. After taking over a Cleveland Cavaliers team that would end up losing LeBron James via free agency to the Miami Heat just days after his arrival, Scott would be fired from the Cavs in 2013. Scott also joins a long list of former Laker players who later went on to coach the team which includes: Pat Riley, Jerry West, Jim Pollard, George Mikan, Kurt Rambis and Magic Johnson.
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