Lakers hire Byron Scott as their new coach
New Lakers Coach Byron Scott speaks during Tuesday’s news conference.
The Lakers have officially hired Byron Scott as their next coach, ending a search of almost three months by choosing a familiar name to Lakers followers.
He comes with a built-in advantage over the last two Lakers coaches because he didn’t replace Phil Jackson in 2011 and wasn’t chosen instead of Jackson in 2012.
He also has a solid relationship with Kobe Bryant and the Buss family, not to mention familiarity with Lakers fans who remember his role on three championship teams in the 1980s.
Scott, 53, has a four-year deal for $17 million, with a team option for the fourth year. A news conference is scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday at the Lakers’ training facility in El Segundo.
The trick for Scott, who will be coaching his fourth NBA team, is getting the most of a patchwork roster composed of an aging veteran (Bryant), an injury-prone one (Steve Nash), an amnesty-waiver discard (Carlos Boozer), a point guard who lost his starting job last season (Jeremy Lin) and a promising lottery pick (Julius Randle).
The Lakers were a dismal 27-55 and missed the playoffs as Bryant and Nash played a combined 21 games last season.
“I know firsthand what it takes to bring a championship to this city, and as someone who both grew up in L.A. and played the majority of my career here, I know how passionate and dedicated our fans are,” Scott said in a statement. “I will give everything I have to fulfill the championship expectations that our supporters have for us, and that we have for ourselves.”
Scott played at Inglewood Morningside High and spent 11 seasons with the Lakers, his smooth stroke helping them win NBA championships in 1985, 1987 and 1988.
As a coach, Scott primarily ran the Princeton offense while in New Jersey and New Orleans, which wouldn’t be looked upon favorably by Bryant, but he evolved more into high screen-and-roll sets while at Cleveland, his most recent stop. Scott was with the Cavaliers for three seasons before being fired after the 2012-13 season and replaced by former Lakers coach Mike Brown.
Scott’s staff could take shape soon.
Former NBA player Paul Pressey was an assistant coach under Scott in Cleveland and probably would be asked to join him again. Johnny Davis was a Mike D’Antoni hire but was under contract for one more year with the Lakers and could also be on the sidelines with Scott.
The Lakers have contacted Robert Horry to gauge his interest in becoming an assistant. Other possibilities to round out the staff are Lakers development coaches Mark Madsen and Larry Lewis, as well as video and game-plan specialist Tom Bialaszewski.
Scott told KCBS-TV he would bring a renewed emphasis on defense, saying the Lakers would “have to get it done on the defensive end first” after allowing 109.2 points a game last season, second worst in the NBA.
The Lakers were without a coach since D’Antoni resigned April 30 with one year left on his contract.
Their options started shrinking as their search played out and three of their five main candidates took other jobs — Lionel Hollins as the head coach for Brooklyn, Kurt Rambis became an assistant with New York and Alvin Gentry an assistant with Golden State.
The Lakers also interviewed Mike Dunleavy.
“After an extensive and thorough search, we’re proud to welcome Byron back to the Lakers family as our next head coach,” Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak said in a statement. “Byron has proven himself at the highest levels of the game as both a player and a coach in his almost 30 years of NBA experience. His leadership skills and track record for success make him the ideal person to lead this franchise forward.”
Bryant declined to give interviews at a promotional appearance Monday afternoon, and representatives for Magic Johnson said Scott’s former teammate might be available to talk about him at Tuesday’s news conference.
Bryant endorsed Scott earlier this month, saying he has had a “tremendously close relationship” through the years with his former teammate.
Bryant added that he had “always been a fan” of Scott, who had his best run as coach at his first stop, New Jersey.
He led the Nets to consecutive NBA Finals appearances in 2002 and 2003 but was fired 42 games into the 2003-04 season as his relationship with Nets guard Jason Kidd deteriorated.
Scott landed quickly with New Orleans for the following season and stayed there until being let go nine games into 2009-10. He was the NBA’s coach of the year in 2008.
Scott then coached three full seasons with the Cavaliers without much success, though he took the job in July 2010 a few days before knowing LeBron James would bolt for Miami.
As a player, Scott was with the Lakers from 1983 until 1993 and later came back for one more season, 1996-97, finishing his 14-year career after that.
Scott was recently an analyst for the Lakers’ broadcast partner, TWC SportsNet, marking his first full season away from the NBA since being drafted by the Clippers with the fourth overall pick in 1983.
Only four months after getting drafted, Scott was acquired by the Lakers along with Swen Nater for Eddie Jordan, Norm Nixon and a second-round selection.
Scott is now the 25th head coach in Lakers history.
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