Is Byron Scott the coach of the Lakers? He thinks he is. The Lakers aren’t quite ready to say it.
Scott went on KCBS-TV late Saturday night and said he agreed to terms to become the team’s third coach since Phil Jackson left the sidelines in 2011.
But the Lakers maintain the deal isn’t done, saying they are still negotiating and hope to reach an official agreement soon with their preferred candidate.
Despite the Lakers’ insistence that nothing was official, Scott said in a telephone interview with KCBS-TV that he accepted the job and was making plans for the immediate future of a team that went 27-55 last season.
“It feels fantastic,” Scott told longtime TV sports anchor Jim Hill. “This is a dream come true. I always wanted to coach the Lakers, especially when I got to coaching.”
Scott, 53, said he had been speaking with Kobe Bryant through most of the summer. The two have known each other since Bryant’s rookie year, 1996-97, which happened to be Scott’s final season as a pro.
“This is a future Hall of Famer, we all know that, and I feel that he is going to be helping me as well because we see the game in a very similar way,” Scott said. “We know that we have to get it done on the defensive end first, and he knows right now, in the last stage of his career, that he is going to have to do some things differently. I love the fact that people keep doubting that this man is going to come back and play great, because I know in my heart, and knowing him the way I do, that he loves those type of challenges.”
The Lakers had the second-worst defense in the league last season, surrendering 109.2 points a game. Only Philadelphia was worse, allowing 109.9 a game.
The Lakers -- who haven’t had a coach since April 30, when Mike D’Antoni resigned with a year left on his contract -- have also sat down with candidates Kurt Rambis, Lionel Hollins, Alvin Gentry and Mike Dunleavy. They spoke over the phone with George Karl.
“I really believe that they wanted to do the diligence and to make sure that I was the right guy,” Scott said. “I thought that the last few hires, in their minds, they were a little hasty with, and so on this one, they took their time to make sure I was the right guy for this situation.”
After Jackson left coaching in 2011, the Lakers hired Mike Brown, who lasted a little more than one season before the Lakers replaced him with D’Antoni.
Scott has coached three NBA teams, most recently spending three years in Cleveland before getting fired after the 2012-13 season. Over the last year, he was a TV analyst for the Lakers’ broadcast partner, Time Warner Cable SportsNet.