The Lakers sit at 18-50 with less than a month to go in the 2014-15 NBA season. One of the franchise behemoths in the NBA is used to a record that’s the inverse of that mark, but coach Byron Scott — who signed a four-year, $17 million deal this past summer — isn’t worried about his job. His predecessors along the sideline weren’t so lucky, but Scott said he recently spoke with GM Mitch Kupchak and Lakers brass is happy with his job, specifically how hard the Lakers are playing.
Per the Los Angeles Daily News, comes word of Scott’s meeting with Kupchak and the vote of confidence he gave the former Lakers sharpshooter, despite the team’s record:
“He said I’ve been doing a great job in getting all these guys to play hard every night,” Scott said. “With all the injuries that we’ve had and to be in the games that we’ve been in, he thinks I’ve done a terrific job.”
Scott also said Kupchak reiterated what he and executive Jim Buss stressed during last year’s coaching interviews. Then, Scott reported the Lakers’ front office conceded a possible lengthy rebuilding process that they would address in the 2015 offseason through the NBA Draft in late June and free agency in July.
“We’re still on the right course and still sticking to what we talked about,” Scott said. “All of the things we talked about before they hired me and all the things we talked about since they hired me hasn’t changed.”
Mike Brown was canned one year and five games into his three-year, $11 million deal (there was an option for a fourth year) after he started 1-4 with Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Dwight Howard on the roster; never mind that Nash was never the same since coming over from Phoenix, Dwight was recovering from back surgery and Kobe had already played a bajillion minutes up to that point.
Mike D’Antoni took over with a three-year, $12 million deal in November of 2012 before he resigned on April 30 last year when the Lakers wouldn’t pick up their 2015-16 option. His only winning record with the team came in that first, partial year.
We’re not suggesting Mike Brown or Mike D’Antoni are somehow more capable than Byron Scott at coaching the Lakers, just that they weren’t given much time to right the ship, and they suffered the same injury issues as Scott’s going through this season (particularly the continued absence of Kobe).
What bothers us about Scott, is an atavistic attitude towards advanced stats, similar to Charles Barkley’s animosity. And it’s not even the advanced part.
Scott, an excellent marksman for the Showtime Lakers of the 80s, isn’t a big fan of the long-ball, despite most NBA team’s adopting the arc as a more efficient means of producing points. To wit:
Currently, the Lakers are ranked No. 24 in the NBA in three-point attempts, 25th in total three-pointers and 17th in three-point percentage. It’s also worth noting he played Kobe Bryant an awful lot earlier this year after Bryant missed all by six games during the 2013-14 season.
Kobe went down, and they weren’t even that great with him in the lineup to badger the team at practice.
Worse than Scott’s prickliness with the three-point arc is LA’s defense, which is the third-worst in the league so far this season. While some claim the taskmaster is all about defending, his teams in Cleveland couldn’t stop anyone either.
We’re not saying Byron Scott is a bad coach, but it’s sorta remarkable GM Mitch Kupchak is giving him such a huge vote of confidence when the Lakers were so quick to terminate those who came before him. Then again, Mike D’Antoni and Mike Brown didn’t win three titles while starting for the Lakers over the course of a decade (1983-1993).
It’s not exactly nepotism, but Scott’s performance as a player will only help him for so long. If the Lakers land some high-profile free agents this summer, draft a Kahlil Okafor-type in June, and get a healthy Kobe Bryant for what could be the final year of his career, Scott will be under a lot more pressure to produce.