Byron Scott

And-Ones: Africa, Coach/Executives, Scott, G League

Improved coaching is the next step for Africa to produce more NBA players, writes Shaun Powell of NBA.com. The league held its annual Africa Game on Saturday, which brought several NBA coaches to the continent for a week of teaching. Powell notes that most of the players who represented Team Africa in the contest learned their skills while growing up in other places.

“The coaches here are getting involved in coaching clinics, teaching techniques and fundamentals like never before,” said Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry, who was part of the event. “Some of the high school coaches are very interested in learning more and understanding how to teach. I think it’s all progressing. The league saw the issue at hand and addressed it and I’ll be shocked if this is not the place where the next wave of NBA players come from.”

There’s more news from around the basketball world:

  • Commissioner Adam Silver has privately voiced his concerns to some owners and team officials over the idea of coaches serving as executives, relays Adrian Wojnarowksi of ESPN. The Clippers became the latest team to abandon that approach on Friday when they made Doc Rivers a full-time coach and promoted Lawrence Frank to president of basketball operations. Gregg Popovich, Stan Van Gundy and Tom Thibodeau are the only remaining coaches who serve both roles.
  • Byron Scott tells TMZ that he’s through with coaching and has no desire to return to the NBA. Scott, 56, was fired by the Lakers at the end of the 2015/16 season after two years with the team. He compiled a 38–126 record for a .232 winning percentage that is the worst of any coach in franchise history. He also frequently clashed with the team’s younger players. Scott served as head coach of the Nets, Hornets and Cavaliers before coming to L.A.
  • The G League is hoping to eliminate a buyout loophole by requiring anyone who gets waived to remain in the player pool for 14 days before being released from their contract, writes Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days. In the past, overseas teams have been able to avoid $40K or $50K buyouts as teams would release players as a gesture of goodwill when they received offers. Johnson says the new rule amounts to a no-compete clause, which is illegal in some states.

Lakers Notes: Scott, Russell, Ingram

Former Lakers coach Byron Scott said he “felt betrayed, lied to and deceived” by former GM Mitch Kupchak and former team president Jim Buss, Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News writes. Scott said that the pair of executives promised him that the team would pick up his third-year option on his contract and he believes that they made him a scapegoat for the franchise’s struggles during Kobe Bryant‘s final season. He also believes the front office used him to manage Bryant.

“If I asked him to do certain things, Kobe would do it because of his respect for me,” said Scott. “Basically, you just wanted me there to help you guys get through the next two years, so Kobe doesn’t go crazy on you guys. I would be the one that can handle it. They know me. I’m not going to back down. I’m not going to be intimidated by anybody.”

Here’s more from Los Angeles:

  • Scott remains a big fan of Julius Randle, but he’s not as bullish on D’Angelo Russell, Medina passes along in the same piece. “I don’t know if his work ethic has gotten any better. Some of the people I’ve talked to in the organization said that it hasn’t,” Scott said of Russell. “I just wish him all the best. The maturity level will catch up to him sooner or later when he realizes it’s an honor and a privilege to be in the NBA and be in the position that he’s in. He has to take full advantage of it.”
  • Team president Magic Johnson only considers one player on the Lakers to be untouchable, Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com relays. “I would say probably the only player that we would say, hey, we would probably not move is Brandon Ingram,” Johnson in an ESPN radio appearance. “I think that we’re excited about Brandon, his length, his size, his agility, his athleticism. And then when you think about, you know, he was a baby coming in, in his first year last season and we see that he really has a high ceiling and we’re excited about what he can possibly turn into.”
  • The Lakers have hired Gunnar Peterson as their Director of Strength and Endurance Training, per NBA.com. Peterson has worked with many entertainers and athletes as a fitness trainer.

Pacific Notes: Curry, Blatt, Shaw, Crawford

Two-time MVP Stephen Curry has earned a raise, but the Warriors can’t afford to renegotiate, writes Danny Leroux of The Sporting News. Curry will receive a little more than $12.1MM next season in the final year of his contract, about half of what other top stars make. Working out a new deal over the summer would prevent Curry from reaching free agency, but it would also upend the team’s salary structure, Leroux warns.

Curry is eligible for a new contract because he will be entering the fifth year of his current deal. However, any raise he receives — and it would surely be a maximum contract starting in the neighborhood of $25.9MM — would drain Golden State’s cap space. The Warriors plan to operate under the cap this summer, and a new contract for Curry could cost the team Harrison Barnes or Shaun Livingston and Festus Ezeli. Also, the NBA limits renegotiated extensions to four seasons, which would include 2016/17. If Curry waits until free agency next summer, he can receive a five-year contract that would run through 2021/22, and he could receive even more money if max deals are increased as part of a 2017 labor renegotiation.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • David Blatt is not on Warriors coach Steve Kerr’s short list to become his top assistant, tweets Monte Poole of CSNBayArea. Kerr was interested in Blatt for the position two years ago.
  • Brian Shaw is nearing a return to the Lakers as lead assistant, but the rest of Luke Walton’s staff is uncertain, writes Bill Oram of The Orange County Register. Shaw, who was an assistant in L.A. under Phil Jackson from 2005-11, was also rumored to be a candidate for assistant posts with the Pacers and Magic, Oram reports. He adds that no one knows if any members of former head coach Byron Scott’s staff will be retained, as Walton may seek coaches with ties to the Lakers or he may try to lure other assistants from Golden State, where Walton had been serving as lead assistant.
  • Shaw’s hiring is imminent, tweets Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News, who says the two sides are finalizing the contract.
  • It wouldn’t take a playoff team to pry free agent combo guard Jamal Crawford away from the Clippers, tweets Noah Coslov of CineSport. “Definitely money, situation, could be a team on the rise,” Crawford said in listing his priorities in an interview on Bleacher Report Radio. “Doesn’t have to be contender.”

Lakers Notes: Shaw, Ingram, Scott

The Lakers are nearing a deal with Brian Shaw to become the team’s lead assistant coach on Luke Walton’s staff, Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times tweets. Walton always wanted Shaw to be the lead assistant on his staff, Turner adds (Twitter link). Walton played for the Lakers and Shaw was an assistant coach for the team during Los Angeles’ two most recent NBA championships.

Here’s more from Los Angeles:

  • Brandon Ingram’s drive to be great and his dedication to winning have impressed the Lakers‘ brass, sources tell Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report. The Lakers won’t likely have a choice between Ingram and Ben Simmons, as Philadelphia is expected to take one of the two. Sixers coach Brett Brown recently said that the team isn’t leaning toward taking any particular player at No. 1.
  • If the Lakers had a choice between Simmons and Ingram, Ingram should be the pick because he fits the team better, several league executives tell Mark Medina of the the Orange County Register. Medina also speculated that the team will discuss trading the pick to Sacramento for DeMarcus Cousins or Indiana for Paul George.
  • Former coach Byron Scott said the Lakers were seriously considering taking Kristaps Porzingis with the No. 2 overall pick last year, but Porzingis’ conditioning during his workout with the team was the reason for passing on the big man, as Scott told Dan Patrick on his radio show (h/t Brett Cyrgalis of the New York Post). Scott added that once he saw Porzingis in the Summer League that year, he knew the rookie was going be “pretty good.”

Western Notes: Lakers, Kings, Jazz, Mavs

Byron Scott said that the week before the Lakers fired him as coach, he met with GM Mitch Kupchak to talk about free agent targets, current Lakers players and the draft, believing the visit was a signal that the team would keep him for at least one more year, as Scott told Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. The timing of the Sunday night meeting in which Kupchak informed Scott of his fate seemed odd to the coach as he made his way to it, but it wasn’t until the GM delivered the news to him that he suspected he was out of a job, as Bresnahan details. Scott added that he’s disappointed but wants to coach again and still has affection for the Lakers franchise.

See more from the Western Conference:

  • Vlade Divac said Tuesday that DeMarcus Cousins needs rules and structure, but the hiring of player-friendly Dave Joerger as coach doesn’t jibe with that, observes Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee. Still, the Kings found Joerger’s postseason experience with the Grizzlies his most attractive asset, and Divac, who said he won’t trade Cousins this year, insisted the days of constant turmoil are over in Sacramento, Voisin writes.
  • The Jazz will work out Idaho State junior point guard Ethan Telfair on Tuesday, reports Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Still, Telfair is expected to withdraw from this year’s draft and return to college ball before the May 25th deadline for him to do so, according to Goodman. The 6’0″ 21-year-old who’s the younger brother of NBA veteran Sebastian Telfair is outside the top 100 prospects on the lists that Chad Ford of ESPN.com and Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress compile.
  • The Mavericks aren’t one player away from title contention, as The Vertical’s Bobby Marks opines, so they should avoid handing out a max contract in a weak market this summer and focus instead on upgrading the bench with young players who have potential, Marks writes. Dallas is without a first-round pick in this year’s draft and has only one second-round pick, at No. 46.

Lakers Notes: Clarkson, Scott, Walton

Jordan Clarkson, who is set to be a restricted free agent this summer, strongly wants to re-sign with the Lakers after the team hired Luke Walton as coach, Jovan Buha of ESPN.com relays. “It really impacts it a lot,” Clarkson told Buha. “That style of play fits me, as well as the other guys. I definitely want to stay here in L.A. and be here. I said in my exit interview, I don’t want to be that guy who bounces around from team to team. I want to be here in L.A. — a place where I can call home — and leave a legacy. The hiring makes it even better.” Clarkson made $845,059 this year, and L.A. must make a $3.2MM qualifying offer to retain the right to match competing bids through the Gilbert Arenas Provision. 

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Byron Scott‘s one regret from his time leading the Lakers is that he wished he played his veterans more minutes, Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News writes. It’s interesting that Scott said that, considering he was often criticized for the way he handled his younger players, as Medina adds. Scott dismissed the idea that he was too much of a disciplinarian to his younger players, per Medina, and instead said their inexperience hindered their development. Scott was 38-126 as the Lakers’ coach.
  • Clarkson isn’t the only one on the Lakers gushing about Walton. Julius Randle believes his versatility can improve under the new coach because Walton worked extensively with Warriors star Draymond Green, helping to make Green more dynamic, Medina writes in a separate piece.

Lakers Notes: Walton, Kupchak, Scott

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.

Western Notes: Pachulia, Abrines, Babby

Zaza Pachulia is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, but the big man wants to return to Dallas and he hopes his strong 2015/16 campaign made an impression on the Mavs‘ front office, Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com relays. “Well, I wish I had a lifetime contract, but it’s not the first time. You know, I’ve been a free agent a couple of times now, and it’s a process. You’ve got to be smart with the decisions, so I’m looking forward to it,” Pachulia said. “We’ll see what’s going to happen. I feel real confident. And once the time comes, I think I have made all the right decisions in my career, whether to stay or whether to go. But I’m confident. And with the use of my experience, I hope I’m going to make the right decision that’s best for me and my family. Whoever would come here for this team and for this organization would love it. I mean, very few percentage of the players wouldn’t like here. You know, it’s the city, the fans, the organization, the personality and the heart. This team is all about winning. And if you’re a winner, then definitely this is the place to be.”

Here’s more from out West:

  • The Thunder are extremely high on draft-and-stash prospect Alex Abrines, who beat out Dario Saric for the Euroleague’s Rising Star award, as Royce Young of ESPN.com and international journalist David Pick relay (Twitter links). The 22-year-old signed an extension last May with Barcelona of Spain that carries through the 2018/19 season, and it isn’t known if that pact includes an NBA out clause that would allow Abrines to join Oklahoma City in 2016/17.
  • After spending the past season as a part-time advisor for the Suns, former team president Lon Babby is ending his tenure with the team this week, Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic reports. “I’m very appreciative for the opportunity to come to Phoenix, be part of a wonderful community and see and learn a lot of things that have been very gratifying,” Babby said. “I look forward to staying involved here in the community and being more involved with my family. I turned 65 in February and consider myself a full-fledged snowbird.”
  • Former Lakers coach Byron Scott said he was shocked that he was fired by the team, adding that he believed management would give him at least one more season to try to turn around the rebuilding squad, Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com relays. “When you have conversations with guys [team management], you take them for their word,” Scott said. “And that’s what I did. Our conversation a couple of years ago was, ‘This is a rebuilding process. It’s going to take two to three years. It’s going to be very tough. Are you OK with that?’ And as I stated, I said, ‘Yeah I’m OK with it. Are you guys OK with it? If you can deal with it, I can deal with it.’ And so when I said I was ‘blindsided’ by it, I figured I at least had another year to get this thing turned around, and I was preparing for that and looking forward to next year. And then boom, that happened, and I said, ‘Wow.’

Western Notes: Scott, Nelson, Draft

Lakers executive Jim Buss was effusive in his praise for the work Luke Walton did while coaching the Warriors in Steve Kerr‘s absence this season, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders relays. “He was thrust into a situation. People might say, ‘Anyone could coach Golden State with their roster.’ No you couldn’t have,” Buss told Pincus. “There’s a lot of pressure in that. There’s a lot of preparation for that.”

Regarding the Lakers waiting 11 days prior to making a decision on former coach Byron Scott‘s fate, Buss told Pincus he thought he was simply being fair to Scott. “There was a lot to go through before that decision was made,” Buss said. “I’m not going to have a knee-jerk reaction because everybody says, ‘You won 17 games, he’s got to go.’  I made a promise to sit with him and [GM] Mitch [Kupchak] and give him a fair shake.”

Here’s more from out West:

  • The Jazz have workouts scheduled on Thursday for Ryan Anderson (Arizona), Trey Freeman (Old Dominion), Jaron Blossomgame (Clemson), Thomas Walkup (Stephen F. Austin), Matt Costello (Michigan State) and Andrew White (Nebraska), the team announced.
  • Former Oklahoma power forward Ryan Spangler has a workout scheduled with the Thunder on Thursday, Royce Young of ESPN.com tweets.
  • The contributions from Festus Ezeli, in particular, and Ian Clark were vital for the Warriors in their Game 2 victory over Portland on Tuesday, observes Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group. Both are poised for restricted free agency this summer.
  • Jameer Nelson still has two seasons remaining on his contract with the Nuggets, but he isn’t keen on remaining on the bench as the team’s third point guard for another campaign, writes Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post in his analysis of the 12th-year veteran. Nelson wouldn’t hesitate to have his agent ask the Nuggets to trade him if it looks like he won’t get more playing time, Dempsey wrote previously. In 39 appearances, Nelson averaged 7.7 points, 4.9 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game. He shot 36.8% from the field overall and 29.9% from beyond the 3-point line.

And-Ones: Benson, Scott, Timberwolves

A judge’s ruling last year that Pelicans owner Tom Benson is mentally competent to run the team has been affirmed by the Louisiana Supreme Count, reports Katherine Sayre of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. The higher court refused to hear an appeal Monday by his estranged family members to have the 88-year-old declared incompetent to run his affairs. Those family members have tried to convince the courts that Benson, who also owns the NFL’s Saints, has been unduly influenced by his third wife, Gayle, and a group of Saints executives.

In other news around the league:

  • Former Lakers coach Byron Scott admitted on Dan Patrick’s radio show that he was “a little blindsided” by their decision to let him go after the season (YouTube link). Scott was under the impression he would have “two or three years” to get the team headed in the right direction but added he didn’t have “any ill-will feelings towards the organization.”
  • The Timberwolves have never enjoyed more reason for optimism in the franchise’s history than now, opines Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. They have hired a top-level coach in Tom Thibodeau, possess a wealth of young talent and practice in a new, state-of-the-art facility, Souhan points out. All those factors provide real hope that the team will soon be a powerhouse in the Western Conference, Souhan concludes.
  • Power forward Trevor Booker, center Jeff Withey and small forward Chris Johnson have a cloudy future with the Jazz, writes Mike Sorensen of the Deseret News. None of those players has guaranteed contracts for next season and GM Dennis Lindsey strongly hinted that he expects Booker to sign with another team, Sorensen continues. Point guard Shelvin Mack is another player without a guaranteed deal, but the Jazz are expected to retain him on his salary of about $2.433MM.
  • Florida State combo guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes has opted to return to school, tweets Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports. Rathan-Mayes, who was not considered a Top 100 prospect by either ESPN Insider Chad Ford or DraftExpress’ Jonathan Givony, decided to test the draft waters in early April.
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