Byron Scott says he will be LA Lakers’ new coach
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Lakers have waited nearly three months to hire a new coach, and they’re apparently making Byron Scott wait a few more days.
Scott, who won three NBA titles as a shooting guard for the Lakers, told a Los Angeles television station this weekend that he has been hired by the team, which hasn’t had a coach since Mike D’Antoni resigned April 30.
“It feels fantastic,” he told KCBS. “This is a dream come true. I always wanted to coach the Lakers, especially when I got to coaching. It’s so unreal.”
Yet Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak and owners Jeanie and Jim Buss remained quiet Sunday, extending their strange coach-less summer to the final days of July.
Sports website ESPN.com first reported Scott would take over the Lakers with a four-year, $17 million contract.
Scott is undoubtedly qualified for the job after stints as a head coach with New Jersey, New Orleans and Cleveland. He was Kobe Bryant’s teammate during Bryant’s rookie year with the Lakers in 1996-97, and the superstar endorsed Scott for the job earlier this month.
“He was my rookie mentor when I first came in the league, so I had to do things like get him doughnuts and run errands for him, things like that,” said Bryant, who played just six games during an injury-marred 2013-14 season. “We’ve had a tremendously close relationship throughout the years.”
Los Angeles finished 27-55 last season, compiling the most losses in the 16-time NBA champions’ history. The Lakers also missed the playoffs for just the third time in 38 seasons as the NBA’s most glamorous club was reduced to ineptitude.
Scott will be the Lakers’ fifth head coach in just over three years, starting with Phil Jackson’s departure after the 2010-11 season. D’Antoni, who replaced Mike Brown and interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff, resigned after going 67-87 in less than two seasons in charge.
Scott has been a head coach for parts of 13 NBA seasons, going 416-521 with the Nets, Hornets and Cavaliers. He led New Jersey to back-to-back NBA Eastern Conference championships in 2002 and 2003, losing the NBA Finals each time.
Scott was the NBA’s coach of the year in 2008, but he also has been fired from each of his three jobs.
Several candidates for the coaching job interviewed with the Lakers, including Lionel Hollins and George Karl, but Scott has been considered the front-runner for the job for several weeks.
He likely realizes could be inheriting a caretaker job with the Lakers, who are likely to struggle just for playoff contention for the next two seasons while Bryant’s two-year, $48.5 million contract eats up a huge chunk of their salary-cap space.
Los Angeles landed Julius Randle with the seventh pick in the draft, but struck out on every big-name free agent despite aggressively courting Carmelo Anthony and entertaining dreams of landing LeBron James.
The Lakers couldn’t even retain Spaniard Pau Gasol, who spurned the team for a deal with the Chicago Bulls.