Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak told reporters today that the possibility of Luke Walton being hired by another team factored into the decision to fire Byron Scott, Bill Oram of The Orange County Register relays (via Twitter). The GM also noted that despite having other interviews scheduled after Walton’s, the team believed it found its man in the Warriors assistant and felt no need to continue the coaching search, Mike Trudell of NBA.com writes. “With the openings in the NBA at the time and the openings we felt might come about, once we finished the interview, we decided he was our first choice,” Kupchak said. “Why wait? Let’s get it done.”
The GM also touted the city of Los Angeles as a natural draw for free agents and believes that the team will be extremely active in free agency this summer, Trudell relays. “We have the natural advantage of living in a great city with great fans I think will continue to be an advantage,” Kupchak said. “Last year or the year before we did not have as much to sell as we do this year. This year I think we have more talent on the court to convince free agents it might be a good place to play. Last year we had enough money for one player. This year we have enough for [two max players]. That makes a difference.”
Here’s more from the Pacific Division:
- Walton has officially signed his contract with the team and it will take effect once the Warriors postseason run is complete, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets.
- Kupchak noted that the front office is planning to be more active in the team’s locker room this season, given that Walton is a young coach without extensive experience, Oram relays (Twitter links). The GM also added that there is a strong possibility the team will be seeking assistants who have previous head coaching experience, Oram notes. Los Angeles hopes to get the new coaches in place fairly quickly and likely won’t wait until Golden State’s season is over to make the hires, Pincus tweets.
- The team will have the final say on Walton’s coaching staff, Kupchak said, but the GM doesn’t envision it becoming a point of contention between the front office and head coach, adding that Walton has some people in mind already, Shahan Ahmed of NBCLA.com tweets.
- No player is off-limits this summer when the Lakers are discussing potential trades, Kupchak said, as Pincus tweets. But the GM did add that the team really likes its young core of players, tweets Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times.
- Scott spoke on ESPN’s “The Jump” about the tension between D’Angelo Russell and Nick Young that resulted from the point guard’s leaked video of Young, saying there wasn’t much he could do as a coach to fix the issue (h/t Nina Mandell of USA Today). “I mean from a coach’s standpoint you kind of sit back and hopefully let this thing heal itself,” Scott said. “You just hope time will allow that to happen. At the beginning obviously it’s going to be a strenuous situation because you have this one guy over here and everybody in the locker room looking at him like you did everybody wrong. So it’s going to take time to heal that. The one thing I couldn’t do was try to make sure I brought those guys together because if they don’t want to come together, they’re not coming together.“