The Los Angeles Lakers have reached an agreement with Byron Scott to be their next head coach, as first reported by ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. The deal is worth a reported $17 million over four years, with a team option on the final season. He spent last year analyzing Lakers games for Time Warner Cable SportsNet, so he’s more than familiar with the team’s returning players. Scott spoke to CBS2/KCAL9 sports director Jim Hill shortly after the deal was finalized:
“It feels fantastic,” said Scott to Hill. “This is a dream come true. I always wanted to coach the Lakers, especially when I got to coaching. It’s so unreal. I have to thank Mitch, Jeanie and Jim Buss to give me this opportunity.”
The Lakers interviewed Scott three times and he’s been talking about how badly he wants the job since May. He has a pre-existing relationship with Kobe Bryant, as the two were teammates when Bryant was a rookie. Scott spent 11 seasons in Los Angeles as a player, winning three championships. His ties to Bryant and the organization no doubt played a role in him getting the job.
Scott’s last stint as a head coach, three seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers after LeBron James’ departure, saw his team go 64-166. Those Cleveland teams were horrendous on defense, despite the fact he sees himself as a demanding defensive coach. With this Lakers roster, he’ll probably be in for similar struggles on that end.
There is some talent in Los Angeles, but it’ll be a challenge for Scott to make the pieces fit. With the Western Conference as strong as it is, he’s signing up for at least one extremely difficult season. The Lakers will try to land another star next summer, and if that fails, they’ll have all the cap space in the world in 2016 when Bryant’s mammoth contract expires.
Bryant wants to be as competitive as possible in between now and then, though, and that’s why Scott has such a tough task. This might be his dream job, but with an aging superstar and a pile of one-way players, this is no coach’s dream situation.