This unnecessary wait for a Los Angeles Lakers head coaching position is about to come to an end.
When Simmons went public with the notion that Lakers management was waiting for a Donald Sterling resolution, many took his words as a reporting scheme. In no way was Simmons reporting the information, however, just offering his cultivated opinion that we all have to take seriously.
Looking at the big picture, it’s just unforeseeable that Rivers would want to start back over from nearly scratch. When he left Boston in a trade that he highly encouraged, he made it known that rebuilding wasn’t something he’s too fond of at age 52. Who would? At that point in time, you’re not a Brad Stevens — a younger, inexperienced coach that has to stick through the hardships management puts on your plate.
Rivers still wants a contender, and he undoubtedly has the most athletically talented team in the West if Sterling indeed sells the team. Knowing how infused Rivers is with his cultural and racial beliefs on equality (considering the terrible experiences he went through), he’s not returning if this franchise isn’t sold to Steve Ballmer.
He won’t come out and fully admit it, but he has too much pride and winning success on his resume to care about coaching for the wrong man, and the wrong values. He’ll walk away from the league if it comes to that.
The Lakers are in a anomalous spot in today’s society.
Here they sit, already with a full roster. By full, we mean with guys that are providing nothing but uncertainty — a group of eccentric fits in the frontcourt slots, with a returning veteran who just hopes to retire in peace. For Kobe Bryant, “peace” only indicates one thing: confetti hailing from the ceiling.
Los Angeles isn’t desperate for players any longer.
They obviously were to begin July, but they closed up the gaps by massively overpaying people (Jordan Hill) and living in an unnatural world where locking up Swaggy P for four years was a top priority.
Los Angeles didn’t even seem desperate for a head coach, which was the first shock to anyone.
Usually, when things go awry and you’re left with no coach and only four players, finding that team control is the first choice. Not for Jim Buss, and not for these Lakers who aren’t even sure what their game plan was entering free agency.
Byron Scott, a longtime Laker product, received an offer on Friday to take over the vacant coaching duties, as reported by Chris Broussard.
After three interviews (nobody’s ever sure why it takes so many meetings), Scott and the Lakers will negotiate contract numbers.
The question remains if Scott is in for this gig as a long-term coaching fit, or if he just wants to coach Bryant until his retirement.
If that’s the case, expect a two or three year deal for Scott, and who would seriously blame him? When Bryant is out of the league, the Lakers’ brand will heavily diminish. Who carries the superstar role within the franchise? Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar peaked the team in terms of popularity, then Shaquille O’Neal brought the physical dominance. Kobe carried the torch when Shaq was dealt, and it’s been his team ever since.
If there isn’t a rising force that carries the fire into the future, the illustrious label the Lakers always have will fade. Kudos to Scott if he wants to keep loyalty on his side and remain after Kobe’s ride runs out of fuel.
Approaching free agency with the mindset of allowing Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James to choose their Lakers coaches was an understandable route, but the team forgot one thing. When has one single coach ever outweighed a roster with only three guaranteed players under contract?
Players with four or five years left of sensational play (James and Anthony) highly value a filled-out lineup over one head coaching option. And to top it all off, why would one coach of their choice give LeBron or Carmelo ANY reason to trust Jim Buss with bringing the right talent in to play next to him?
It wouldn’t, and there’s two straight years of evidence as to why nobody should put their future in the hands of the Lakers.
Scott has been through his share of highs and lows around the league, taking the New Jersey Nets to the NBA Finals twice (losses) and mentoring Chris Paul along his career path in New Orleans.
All jobs come with their fracases, as did Scott’s with his first seasons on a new job:
As outlined above, Scott’s teams suffered early on after he took over (Nets in 2000-01 and Hornets in 2004-05). But, if there’s one thing he’s shown us during his tenures, it’s resiliency.
These Lakers, as constructed, are going to be scraping the barrel in terms of backcourt defense. Bryant is over the hill, but can still run an offense. Defensively? He needed help, and the Lakers didn’t give it to him with Jeremy Lin and bringing back Steve Nash. Xavier Henry‘s job is to become more focused on that end this season, and leave scoring for the rest.
Scott preached defense in his time at New Jersey and New Orleans, and it really shined through during the two straight seasons ranking first in defensive rating. For the most part, he isn’t going to throw a D’Antoni style and speed to his teams, which goes well with Kobe. He isn’t at the point where he can be effective in a full-blast, seven second offense, so Scott can keep these Lakers at a league average pace each night.
If there’s one guy Julius Randle didn’t need as a coach early on in his career, it’s D’Antoni. Therefore, fans can be thankful for this coaching move, as Scott is a man of fine judgment — he’ll grant the proper minute distribution between Randle, Ed Davis, and Carlos Boozer. It’s actually a rather great “problem” to have, versus a lack of depth up front. Things are about to get crowded, and entertaining.
With a coach that’s been wrongly criticized for the mountain of death in Cleveland the past three years, the Lakers have a chance to at least survive this coming year.
They’re not wanting to tank for the top five protected pick in next year’s draft. That’s not why Scott wants the job. He wants to compete for the playoffs.
Out of the Western Conference for the last five years, he’s about to remember how excruciating that truly is.