While most teams with coaching vacancies scrambled to make their hire prior to the June draft, the Lakers had no problem taking their time. At long last, however, their search just might be over. We’re still waiting on an announcement, but it appears that the Lakers are nearing agreement with Byron Scott on a contract that will make him the 25th coach in franchise history.
In an offseason where coaching neophytes Steve Kerr and Derek Fisher both landed lucrative deals and rising sophomore Jason Kidd jumped ship from the Nets to the Bucks with a hefty pay raise, the Lakers apparently valued experience. Scott’s career 416-521 record on the bench leaves something to be desired, but it’d be unfair to judge Scott purely on wins and losses considering some of the teams he managed, including the LeBron-less Cavs. Scott’s first foray into being a head coach was a rousing success, of course, as he guided the Nets to back-to-back Eastern Conference championships in 2001/02 and 2002/03 after a trying 2000/01. Those Nets were unceremoniously swept in the 2002 Finals by the Lakers but the 2003 team pushed a very talented Spurs squad to a six game series.
The Lakers considered other familiar names for the opening, including Lionel Hollins, George Karl, Alvin Gentry, Mike Dunleavy, and Kurt Rambis, but Scott was likely the pick thanks to his combination of experience and history with the Lakers franchise. Scott’s eleven career seasons in purple and gold was a definite foot in the door and it probably helped that his final season in Los Angeles was Kobe Bryant‘s first. As Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com noted, Bryant recently gave his blessing for the Lakers to hire Scott.
“He was my rookie mentor when I first came into the league,” Bryant said. “So I had to do things like get his doughnuts and run errands for him and things like that. We’ve had a tremendously close relationship throughout the years. So, obviously, I know him extremely well. He knows me extremely well. I’ve always been a fan of his.”
We’re pretty sure we know how Kobe would vote, but we want to know what you think. Is Scott the right man for the job in Los Angeles?