The Los Angeles Lakers announced late Sunday evening that they have parted ways with Coach Byron Scott, who had been at the helm for the past two seasons. During his tenure, Scott coached the team to consecutive seasons in which the team set a record for losses.
When he was hired in 2014, the thought was that Scott would provide the Lakers with the kind of defensive mindset that the team lacked under former Coach Mike D’Antoni. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, as this past season the Lakers were dead last in terms of defensive rating.
Scott also rubbed some the wrong way with his old-school tactics off the court, where he frequently called out player in the media.
The Lakers took a little over a week to deliberate after the end of the season and ultimately decided not to pick up the option on Scott’s deal.
We asked the experts at LakersNation if the Lakers made the correct move in letting Byron go, and who they would like to replace him.
Here is what they had to say:
Nathanial Lastrapes (@nathanielp2):
The Lakers indeed made the right choice in firing Byron Scott. Don’t get me wrong; I was on board with hiring Scott from the beginning, and I probably held out hope that he would be able to turn things around for longer than I should have. However, the way he handled the young personnel of the Lakers was not appropriate for growth and development. Scott was a perfect coach to usher Kobe Bryant out the door, but he is not the solution for player development during this rebuilding stage that the Lakers are currently in.
Luke Walton would be an ideal candidate for the Lakers to take a close look at. It is undeniable that Walton possesses poise on the bench (he had a lot of practice during his tenure with the Lakers), and he was pivotal in helping the Golden State Warriors make history this season. Walton handled his personnel perfectly while Steve Kerr was unavailable, and he displayed his value as a future head coach in the NBA. It is no accident that Walton has now been linked to almost every head coaching vacancy. The former Laker would be a great coach for the young guys, and ultimately the right candidate for the Lakers going forward.
Corey Hansford (@TheeCoreyH):
I don’t think there is any question that the Lakers made the right move in letting go of Byron Scott.
In fairness to Scott, he has had terrible rosters to work with, and balancing Kobe’s farewell with developing the young kids was a tough task that most coaches would struggle with. That being said, his communication (or lack thereof) with the young players as well as offensive and defensive sets that seemed non-existent is enough to get him the ax.
As far as who should replace him, I like a number of guys. I would be happy with Mark Jackson, Luke Walton, or Kevin Ollie. But my personal favorite option is Ettore Messina.
He brings plenty of head coaching experience, albeit overseas, as well as a familiarity with the Lakers having served on Mike Brown’s coaching staff. Most importantly he is a creative offensive mind who I believe will get the best out of the young core of D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, and Larry Nance Jr.
The Lakers need a change from the norm and Messina; a four-time Euroleague champion brings everything the Lakers need in a new coach to get the team out of this rut they have been in the last three seasons.
Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner):
I have no doubt the Lakers made the right move to part ways with Scott. The team’s young players seemed to lose faith and respect in Scott during the final stretch of the season, and I highly doubt the relationship between coach and player could’ve been repaired next year or at any point in the future.
However, the timing of Scott’s firing has left the team with arguably two of the best candidates no longer available. Although Tom Thibodeau may have been demanding more than the Lakers were willing to give and Scott Brooks appears to have desired a long-term commitment, both coaches were solid options for Los Angeles and reportedly had an interest in the job had it become available.
Fortunately, there are a few intriguing alternatives. Luke Walton appears to be the fan favorite and might be the team’s top target, but the list doesn’t start and end with the former Laker. Mark Jackson, Jeff Van Gundy, John Calipari, Kevin Ollie and Ettore Messina are also viable coaching options.
It’ll be interesting to see what move the Lakers make in the coming weeks and whether it’ll impact the team’s ability to draw talent in NBA free agency come July 1.
Trevor Lane (@Trevor_Lane):
Byron Scott was widely vilified by the Lakers’ massive fan base, with many believing that he mishandled the development of the young core. His “man up” mantra also didn’t play well, leaving Scott bear the brunt of fan frustration.
Byron’s task, however, was a daunting one: Develop the future while simultaneously celebrating the career of Kobe Bryant, and somewhere in between try to win some basketball games. Byron certainly did right by Kobe, allowing the Black Mamba to walk away on his terms. Together they created perhaps the most unforgettable final appearance of any athlete ever.
The young players, on the other hand, often seemed discombobulated. On the surface Byron’s goals were admirable: hold the youngsters accountable, and teach them that everything, playing time included, has to be earned.
Unfortunately, there were many moments when it appeared as though communication between the coach and his players was minimal, leaving them to sink or swim. The offense and defense never really clicked, and as noble as Byron’s intentions may have been, the bottom line is that the results weren’t there.
The Lakers made the right move in parting ways. It’s time to move forward, and a Kobe-less Lakers team could use a new approach.
With that said, my ideal hire would be Luke Walton. He’s young and his time in Golden State will have shown him how to get the most out of D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson. Several other coaches, like Kevin Ollie and Ettore Messina, are also intriguing, but Walton is the exciting name, the one that will make a splash before the team attempts to court free agents.
He also has a history with the Lakers, which means he checks just about every box Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss’ wish list. Luke Walton is the guy.
Alan Huerta (@alan_huerta24):
When the news broke last night that the Los Angeles Lakers had decided to part ways with head coach Byron Scott, I was not at all surprised. I think they did make the right move in letting him go because I don’t think the front office, nor the players (oh, and the fans as well) had ever bought into his system – whatever that was. Scott had always been known for being an old school, tough love type of coach with his players, but on a team that lacks talent and experience, the two seasons he had in Los Angeles were detrimental – leading to the franchise’s worst records in consecutive seasons.
I’m sure one of the hardest things about his departure for Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss was that weren’t just letting go of any relatively new face they’d only known for two seasons, but they ultimately fired a family friend who had been around the Lakers franchise since the Showtime era in which he helped win three titles back in the 80’s. But nonetheless, the front office decided to do what’s best for the franchise thus beginning the search for the franchise’s sixth head coach since 2011.
Although the list of potential coaches is endless, I see Luke Walton being the most likely option. He’s a former player with ties to the organization, and he’d also be able to connect with his players seeing that he’s still young himself. That and also because I don’t think UConn’s Kevin Ollie would leave what he’s built in Storrs for the past four years.
That said, I believe Mark Jackson could be a great fit here in Los Angeles. Not only did he prove while coaching for the Golden State Warriors (look what they’ve accomplished since – a title and the best record in NBA history this year) that he could turn a struggling, yet promising young team around, but he developed a connection with his players in a way that most coaches don’t.
He’s a players’ coach, and with an extremely young Lakers’ core, what better than to bring in a guy that will have players competing every night? Jackson could also potentially suit as a mentor to one particular player that Byron Scott could never mesh with – D’Angelo Russell. With a player like Russell who still has a lot to learn due to age and lack of experience, making sure he sees eye-to-eye with his next coach will play a vital role in the team’s overall turnaround. Jackson may not be one of the frontrunners, at least through early rumors yet, but a destination in Los Angeles may lead to the revival of the storied franchise.