NBA Rumor: Byron Scott Fired

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They also needed someone to indoctrinate members of the next generation of Laker stars — Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell — into the daily grind of NBA life. Bryant wasn’t emotionally available for that, there were no other strong veteran presences in the locker room, so Scott needed to play the bad guy, and he did it often and well. He was ripped repeatedly by fans and media for benching and publicly scolding the kids, right up until Russell was busted for videotaping private conversations with Nick Young in a record-setting act of immaturity.

The Lakers said a coaching search will “begin immediately.” Yet it is not immediately clear who will replace Scott, or if the team will retain any of his assistants, which include Paul Pressey, Mark Madsen, Larry Lewis, Jim Eyen and Thomas Scott. The Lakers lost out on potential coaching candidates after mulling Scott’s future for the past week. Those possibilities included Tom Thibodeau (Minnesota) and Scott Brooks (Washington), both of whom would have been interested in the job, according to sources familiar with their thinking. Possible replacements could include Golden State Warriors assistant Luke Walton, former Rockets and Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy, Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie and San Antonio Spurs assistant Ettore Messina.

Byron Scott a keeper?

Believe it or not, Byron Scott has what one source described as a “major chance” to stay with the Lakers; Jeanie Buss is said to be pushing for Scott behind the scenes. If so, it could clear the way for a top-to-bottom reset for the franchise in 2017, and the possible return of Jackson to run basketball operations with Luke Walton as the coach. There are a lot of dots to be connected to get from here to there, though — not to mention a lot more games for the Lakers to lose.

As Russell heard the constant stream of positive feedback and reinforcement, the stern look on his face when he entered the building began to fade. The normally affable 20-year-old began to open up and joke with fans, though he was not made available to reporters for comment. “Take the torch,” a fan told him. “Take over. Byron Scott won’t be there!” The last sentence elicited a laugh and a big smile from Russell. He simply responded with a “thank you,” but his body language said it all.

“When I talk with a lot of people around the league the expectation is Byron Scott will not be the coach next season,” Medina told NBA TV host Jared Greenberg. “But when you talk to the Lakers, they’re saying he’s definitely going to be here this season, and they are going to evaluate him this off-season,” with Medina reporting that the team sees Scott as having a “no-win situation” to an extent due to the difficulties of simultaneously trying to manage Kobe Bryant’s farewell tour while also developing the Lakers’ youth.

Byron Scott still safe?

Scott is expected to coach through the rest of the regular season, according to a person familiar with the situation, but even he realizes nine victories in 50 games is stretching the limits of acceptable reality. “I would say, ‘Nah, I think we would have a few more,'” Scott said. “I knew it was going to be tough because of all the youngsters that we have and I knew the learning curve was going to take time. I don’t know what everybody else was thinking, but I didn’t expect playoffs or nothing like that.

“I am who I am,” Scott told The Times. “Pat Riley wasn’t easy on us. Larry Brown wasn’t easy on me [in Indiana]. I think that’s the reason I was successful because I had a coach that pushed me and tried to get the very best out of me. “As far as I’m concerned, I’m no different. I want to see how great these guys can be. I want to push them to the limit. I want to push them to things they’ve never done before. If that’s being too tough, so be it.”

There is growing chatter from a fan base upset with the team’s start, but Scott said he blocks it out. “The one thing I’ve always said, and a great old coach told me this a long time ago, when you start listening to the fans, you’ll be sitting with them next,” Scott said. “I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to fans because fans are fans. Fans aren’t at practice every day. They don’t know the preparation. They don’t know what goes into it. They just see the end product, so they have no idea. And they all have their opinions, but I don’t put a lot of stock into it.

The reality is that ownership isn’t entirely unhappy with how Scott is running things, and with Kobe Bryant in the last year of his contract they haven’t gone into full youth movement mode anyway. While Scott has taken a ton of heat for not getting more minutes for second overall pick D’Angelo Russell, his lack of playing time is as much his own fault as it his coach’s. Russell came into camp unprepared physically and mentally to make the NBA leap and that has led to a slow start that Scott has taken some of the blame for.

Yet, Scott said he still senses support from Kupchak and Lakers executive vice president of basketball personnel Jim Buss. Scott is in the second-year of a four-year contract worth $17 million, with a team option for the final season. “We still understand that this is a process,” Scott said. “We have a lot of young guys on this team that we feel will be very good players. But it’s not going to happen in a month. It’s going to take some time. It might take a year or two.”
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