Lakers coach Byron Scott struck a defiant tone in his end-of-season interview with the media today, lashing out at his critics, defending his approach with the team’s young players and saying that he “absolutely” believes he’ll be back to coach the team next season, even though he conceded GM Mitch Kupchak hasn’t given him any assurances. Skepticism has surrounded his long-term job security much of the season, but reports in recent days indicate Scott has a strong chance to stick around. Primary owner Jeanie Buss is making the case for Scott behind the scenes, as Ken Berger of CBSSports.com heard. Scott said he thinks the team’s young players responded well to his communication style, which was often blunt and drew the ire of fans and the media. “To be honest with you, I‘m much smarter than all of them when it comes to basketball,” Scott said of his detractors. Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com, Bill Oram of the Orange County Register and Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News relayed Scott’s remarks (All four Twitter links).
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- The controversy surrounding D’Angelo Russell and Nick Young hurt the Lakers, Scott said, citing the trust issues it created, and while he said the two players have to work it out among themselves, he also expressed belief that the passage of time will help smooth out the situation, as Medina and Los Angeles Times scribe Eric Pincus relay (Twitter links). Still, Scott is high on Russell, Pincus tweets. “We love that kid,” Scott said.
- George Karl, whom the Kings fired Thursday, has already been in contact with UNLV about its coaching job, and mutual interest exists between Karl and the school, which initiated the dialogue Thursday night, reports Dan Wolken of USA Today. The UNLV job is once more open after Chris Beard left Friday for Texas Tech less than two weeks after taking the Vegas job, Wolken notes.
- The Clippers are exploring the idea of starting a D-League affiliate in Bakersfield, California, for next season, sources tell Chris Reichert of Upside & Motor. A void exists in Bakersfield, as the Suns this week announced they bought out the local owners of the D-League Bakersfield Jam and are moving their affiliate to Arizona, but the Bakersfield owners, Stan Ellis and David Higdon, are reportedly eager to partner with another NBA team. D-League president Malcolm Turner said the league would help them in that pursuit, Reichert notes. The Clippers are one of eight NBA teams remaining without a D-League affiliate. Startup costs would run an estimated $7MM, according to Reichert.