I have a hard time reading the tea leaves when it comes to what Byron Scott’s future might entail. Last month, when a report surfaced that the Lakers were “torn” on whether Scott would return for a third season as Lakers’ head coach, I was not really surprised. I am sure Scott has backers in the front office (remember, these people hired him) and Scott is Lakers’ family due to his showtime connections.
When that last point is put into the context of the Lakers being a family business, it truly matters. There were whispers for a long time that Dr. Buss was quite fond of Scott and as a coach whose biggest influence is Pat Riley, that connection to the past is strong.
That said, when the aforementioned report surfaced, I also wrote a leak like this signified that Scott also has detractors in the front office. That there’s no reason for a leak like this to come out unless Scott being let go was truly a consideration. And that concerns which go beyond the team’s record and spill into how he’s handled the team’s young players might carry more weight than the circumstances he’s faced with injuries (his first season) and the Kobe retirement tour + incorporating a slew of young players (season two).
Why does this matter today? Well, Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck floated an interesting theory this morning on Scott’s potential future with the organization which adds another variable to the equation:
Theory floating around league: Lakers keep Byron 1 more year, just in case Phil opts out and returns to L.A. and wants to pick the coach.
— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) March 15, 2016
The specter of a Phil Jackson return conjures strong emotions in nearly every Lakers’ fan, be it positive or negative. Phil’s track record as a coach is second to none, but his short tenure as Knicks’ top basketball decision maker has been more mixed. It’s early, of course, but firing his first ever hire as head coach after a season and a half and then hedging as though Kurt Rambis can actually find a way to remove the “interim” from his head coaching title aren’t the best of looks.
Let’s go beyond the Phil speculation, though. What this theory really means is that team Governor and part owner Jeanie Buss would be yielding some of her “final say” power by providing more direction on the basketball side. Based on the theory Beck notes, keeping Byron wouldn’t be so much based on Scott’s performance, but on the timing of Phil’s opt-out in New York coupled with the Jim Buss’ timeline for returning the Lakers to contention.
Also, let’s face it, if — and this truly is an if — Jim and Mitch are ready to move on from Scott, that would, typically, be their call since Jeanie has gone on record multiple times about not intervening on basketball related decisions. The framing of this, however, is that Jim and Mitch would hold onto Byron because their potential successor in basketball authority might want to choose his own coach.
That seems like a decision making process a totally healthy organization would make.
Don’t get me wrong, if Jeanie wants to be more hands on in her role as the final decision maker, that’s her prerogative. And, to be fair, the totality of what is written above is a theory and not necessarily anything which is actually happening right now.
But, as has been an issue for several years now, the optics on this don’t look very good. The fact that a theory like this even exists reflects a certain level of dysfunction that is, at the very least, perceived to exist in the Lakers’ front office and ownership. And if that dysfunction is real? Watch out. I mean, a sister letting her brother twist in the wind for a year, waiting for him to resign just to replace him with her fiancé?
Again, it’s all theory for now, but the subplots are incredible and, at the same time, shape the perception of the organization. When you’re not winning, this is how the vacuum is filled.
Andres Garcia says
Nice article. Got love for B like everyone else from the Showtime days. He’s had a bad hand dealt to him no doubt. But, B hasn’t done himself any favors with his messaging. The digs at the kids, digs at analytics, digs at 3 pointers have made him and his outlook appear a bit antiquated. He might be joking half the time. But the fact that he keeps doing it, despite the poor reception that it receives locally and nationally, is troubling.
If LAL has a shot at Thibs this offseason you have to take it imo. Likely gives LAL immediate credibility with potential FAs and has a proven record as a defensive coach in the pace and space NBA. As evidenced by the recent uptick, the kids can put points on the board with a modern p n r based offense. It’s on the defensive end where they need a value add at coach. Especially now when they are young, a good coach can help ingrain good habits into them on the defensive end.
The craziness of the Lakers’ ownership worries me much more than whether they get a lottery pick this year.
So PJ is the guy that may ride to the Lakers’ rescue? Please.
The same guy who is perhaps considering coaching Knicks home games while Rambis coaches on the road? Suggestive of limitless hubris, so its probably true. Remember when this idea was floated in LA? Jerry Buss sensibly nixed it.
The existence of a rumor as the reflection of a dysfunction is a great point. But I just hope that it is just the noise surrounding a franchise that is (even with such a record) one of the most interesting in the NBA.
I think most of the Laker fans want to see a turn around in decision making. Not that all the decisions made by the FO have been bad (I think they drafted very well) but a lot of times the past seems to play too much of a role in their thinking. (There is the past of the coach they decided to hire, the past of their legend that led to a Farewell Tour that ist influencing the development of the core or even the past of the franchise itself that led the FO to believe it is enough to attract stars in FA). This rumor is pointing in the same direction.
I hope the fans get their turn around this year with decision making that focuses solely on the future. (A HC representing the way the NBA is going, players that fit that system and the young players we already have instead of stars that just provide a glimpse of success reminding of the good old times)
A few weeks ago I thought Scott would definitely get fired. Since then he has dropped Princeton, started playing his rookies, and Russell is emerging (in spite of Scott?). These all help his case for coming back. Yet I cringe every time a mic is placed in front of him and that alone may be reason enough to fire him still.
I’m not enamored with the idea of Phil running the Lakers. He tends to bring in guys he knows. So which former Phil Jackson associate are you hoping to replace Scott with? Maybe Luke Walton, but after that my enthusiasm falls off a cliff.
Truth be told, this should have been posted in the last thread, but this is a good write up on DLo by Kevin Ding –
Warren Lim says
Losing the lotto pick might be easier to accept than 1 more year of Byron. Got love for him as a player but never believed him 1 bit as coach. Track record of failure and too proud to admit at that.
I would like to see KD’d choice of coach or Luke Walton. It might be the same thing. KD or not, Luke would bring out the best from the kids, because that is of prime importance.
If the Lakers keep the pick their resurgence would be almost guaranteed. A fourth young talented core player would make the team very attractive to really good coaches and eventually to elite free agents. Even Jim would be hard pressed to screw that up.
But realize, even with the pick Jim won’t make his deadline of the 2nd round of the playoffs next year. So what would Jeanie do. I believe there is enough fan animosity that Jim would need to be replaced. However, I don’t think Jeanie would be well served by hiring Phil. If the FO got messy between siblings what happens between girlfriend/boyfriend? Is Jeanie hoping this move will make Phil marry her? What if their relationship has a falling out? No, the downside is almost too great — like a meltdown waiting to happen.
It would be best for Jeanie to elevate Mitch and bring in a younger GM who would essentially run the show with Mitch providing an elder statesman perspective when necessary.
A Horse With No Name says
Phil isn’t coming back. Jeanie cannot fire Jim or hire Phil without the support of her siblings. As Darius notes, Phil hasn’t really done anything but look somewhat foolish as a rookie GM. First, hiring/firing Fisher, and second, floating the ridiculous idea of coaching home games–with Rambis as he road caddy. Please. The triangle is dead. Phil figuratively speaking, is the wallking dead.
I have a sneaky, unverifiable suspicion that a lot of these media “theories” are softball “leaks” from Jeannie’s side of the Lakers. I sincerely hope that Jim and Mitch ignore these rumors and do what is in the best interest of this team: hire Thibbs, Brooks, Messina or any other NBA coach out there except for Fish and Ramiish – because, and let’s be 100% frank here, anyone out there is a better coach than Byron Scott.
I have mixed feelings about Byron at this point. Probably up until the All-star break, I wasn’t sure if he had enough to coach this team. Given the team displayed some brilliance over the summer, I believe the expectations were high (not to say we were expecting a championship caliber team, but a team that can play). If anything, fans were hopeful coming into the season. Once the season started though, his inexplicable insistence on certain rotations, unwillingness to start/allocate minutes to certain players (Tarik to this day), playing Kobe beyond his physical capacity, etc. etc. just made it easy for the fans to call for his head.
I just thought it was a perfect set-up where Byron will take the blame for the lost season as Kobe makes his final tour. In that sense, some journalist suggested that Byron be considered for the coach of the year award because 1) he’s done wonderful job of managing the Kobe farewell tour, 2) got the heat off the front office, and 3) tanked enough to be in a good position to retain top 3 protected pick. Probably all that the front office has asked for / implied. After the season, he’ll ultimately perform his final act in which the front office will “sacrifice” him to satisfy the disgruntled fans and as an offer for future hopes.
With all jokes aside though, after the All-star break, I feel like fans could see things beginning to click, whether it’s perfectly orchestrated or if it’s just crazy coincidence, it’s giving fans enough hope. Perhaps Byron has successfully taught Russell and Randle not to take things for granted but to really earn the trust (not just from the coach but from everyone, etc.). The new uptempo style (similar to Golden State) suits the youth that we have on the team. Lakers have enough playmakers to suit the run-n-gun and have shown ability to do so (though it’s slowed down a bit).
In light of all these, it might make sense to bring him back for third year to see if there is any sort of continual progress that can be built on the tail-end success of this year. But then again, I could be the fool that sheepishly took a small blip on a big picture to mean the world.
I would rather lose the pick than suffer through another season of Byron. The team started performing better after the all star game because the kids were given playing time and the freedom to make mistakes without the fear of being yanked, mostly due to injuries and limited backcourt subs (Lou and Kobe sitting out). They didn’t play as much iso ball, played better team ball, assisting at a higher rate and overall played a much more entertaining game. The kids numbers improved and overall chemistry looked better. That is all in spite of Scott. Had Lou not gotten hurt, Russell (particularly Russell) and Huertas would still be seeing very limited minutes and not much in the 4th. Now that Lou is back, we are back to this horseshit show of Byron playing favorites. Although Huertas got to play all the 4th in the last game, all it was was throwing the ball to Lou or Kobe for some hero ball chucking.
The FO keeps failing at their coaching hires and if they keep Byron past this year, it would be an insult on top of injury. I like their drafting. I love the kids. Their coaching hires have been terrible.
Also I would like to know these rumors are coming from. The Lakers organization have always been pretty good about keeping secrets behind close doors, besides Jeannie, Mitch or Jimmy speaking to the media. There are lots of writers who know that slapping the name Lakers and Byron Scott onto an article gets lots of hits. So it is fairly easy for someone who has “unnamed” sources to speak on “rumors” and know that tons of Laker fans will read it. Until they come out and say it directly, I don’t believe it. Byron’s incompetence is too great to warrant another year of employment. Dude needs to be at home watching NBA games so he can learn about what modern basketball and coaching is all about.
Jeanie cannot fire Jim or hire Phil without the support of her siblings.
Like I said the other day: if you have specific evidence that supports this claim, let’s see it. If your statements to this effect are actually true, then that changes the FO conversation.
As to Phil: I would not be thrilled about having him back, but all the things people are saying about him also apply on one level or another to having Jim run basketball ops:
>personal connections leading to hire and creating ancillary problems
>questionable and quirky decisions about coaching hires (worth remembering that Phil wanted Steve Kerr).
>huge contract to aging star
>long contracts to role players
>appears to have made a pretty nice snag with a high lotto pick
>questions about quals/commitment to analytics/modernity
As to the team the Knicks have, it is better than last year’s Knicks team. Whether Phil’s decision to bring in some grunt ballplayers on 2-4 year deals will help to move the team forward in a meaningful way remains to be seen and of course the Knicks have made a long commitment to Anthony.
This, ‘return to yesterday’ nostalgic sense of things will lead to us being left behind, standing there on past victory lane, while the rest of the league passes us by.
The past has treasure and wisdom, yes, yet it’s passed on from the vets to the young, not in lame attempts to turn back the clock.
Jackson, is the past, and in my opinion, he should have retired to Montana after the Kobe ring era ended.
He was a great coach, (for his times,) but not GM material.
As for Scott, my thoughts have shifted since the all star break.
He was responsible for selecting D’angelo, and is now showing some skill in handling him.
Therefore, If we can’t land Walton, I would not mind him as place holder for another season.
– This post is as negative as the previous post on Russell was positive. I’m not wishy washy on this topic, really don’t see any upside to keeping Scott…except it saves the Buss family $$$’s. They wouldn’t have to pay two coaching salaries simultaneously as they have been doing in the recent past.
– I think it would be a bad sign to the returning young players. Imagine if we’re hearing this, they probably are also. Thus they’d knowingly be playing for a lame duck coach and probably in a system that will be changing the following year.
– I think it also sends a message that they, the Lakers can put their true improvement “on hold” for another year.
– Darius, so glad to see you used the term “dysfunctional” when discussing present Laker ownership. We do see eye to eye on the largest, most serious challenge to the Lakers return to glory.
– No Phil J return please. Let the Tibbs period start.
– Lastly, I was never enamored with Scott as a player either (full disclosure). I was a big Norm Nixon fan. #10 played a major role in Showtimes’ 1st two titles and was my 3rd fav Laker behind Kareem & Magic at the time.
LT Mitchell says
Jeannie working with her fiance might be a concern if she was engaged to Randy Phund, but Phil should be one of the top candidates regardless of her relationship with him.
Let’s compare Phil vs Jimbo:
– One is respected throughout the league and would be an asset in free agent meetings. The other is possibly the least respected owner in the NBA, and as a result, has to avoid free agent meetings like the plague.
– One of these guys went after Steve Kerr as his first choice. The other hired Mike Brown after one dinner, than hired a run and gun coach for a group of post players. He decides to be more thorough with his third hire and takes months of due diligence before finally deciding to hire Byron Scott.
– One of these guys is a proven winner at every level, and good luck seems to follow him. The other has a history of failing, and bad luck is his middle name.
– One is arguably a basketball genius. The other does not seem to understand basic basketball concepts.
But sure, let’s disregard a qualified candidate because he’s dating Jeannie.
– Interesting piece (Baxter Holms latest):
Showtime! Lakers making progress with advanced stats (finally)
Ugh, Jeanie again. Agree with some others that say Jeanie is likely leaking these rumors. If she thinks bringing Phil back will placate the fans, I don’t think she is reading the fan base very well. I’m sure that some fans love Phil as a coach and would welcome him back as GM, but some not insubstantial group look at his tenure NY and do not want that here.
Sid next year is team option.
The only reason to keep Byron for another year is to tank again. I can see the scenario where the FO thinks that they will lose this years pick which means that the team gets to keep next year’s pick. Next years draft is suppose to be deeper and better than this years draft and with Ton Maker on the list, maybe they are just setting the stage for another talkathon.
Where are these rumors coming from?
Clay Bertrand says
Byron Scott’s contract is for one more season after this year which would be his 3rd season. The 4th season, which would be the year AFTER next season, is a Team Option.
Tom Thibodeau is not necessarily the coach for this team IMO. He really runs his guys into the ground worse than Byron is known to do. He’s an OLD SCHOOL guy. Just because our core is young doesn’t mean you want Thibs wearing them out and playing them heavy minutes in short rotations. It leads to burn out and injuries etc. We all want to see better D and Thibs SEEMS like a great coach until you read/hear how he is/was. I really admire his dedication to the profession, his passion and relentlessness, IF he would be more flexible and willing to listen to the FO and compromise on minutes, rest etc.—AND HE MAY WELL BE WILLING TO BE THAT WAY NOW AFTER BEING FIRED IN CHI—then I would certainly have him on the list of potential BS replacements. But if he’s gonna be all HARD ASS and hardheaded, he would not represent a very forward thinking or progressive coaching option and we should go another direction IMO.
Phil Jackson is not a GM just because he was a successful coach of the BEST PLAYERS EVER. I feel he mostly got lucky with Porzingis. He was in a postition to sort of gamble on that pick to a degree and frankly, I don’t credit anyone with making a good selection of a player in the top 5 unless its a total unforeseen reach. You are picking at the TOP of the draft!!!!! You SHOULD be drafting a guy who is good and makes a decent impact!!!!!
While respected, Phil isn’t a basketball talent evaluator—-he’s a BIG NAME. He’s a figurehead. He’s won rings as a coach and as a role player. He has NEVER built a team or even helped build one. So am I to believe that while the SLOAN Conference goes on with the next generation of NBA GMs and executives in attendance, we are angling to hire an entirely UNPROVEN GM at 70 years of age to guide the future of the team while he slowly marries into the ownership————ANNNND we are going to wait a full year before we do it!?!?!?!?!!?!?!?! Ridiculous!!!!!!!!!
As Darius points out, JIM HIMSELF would HAVE TO be totally in on this plan for his own front office demise AND he’d have to willingly play the role of BIG TIME PUBLIC scapegoat all so that his sister, whom he does not like or get along with can hire her Fiance to replace him. Say WHAT???!?! C’mon Man!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That just AIN’T HAPPNIN!!!
I also find it funny that Jeanie and Jimmy repeatedly have mentioned how their revered father Dr. Buss strongly wanted the team to stay in the family and never be sold. He strongly wanted his son Jim to run the basketball side and his daughter Jeanie, the business side. BUT no one ever mentions the fact that Dr. Buss ALSO ADAMANTLY DID NOT WANT PHIL JACKSON INVOLVED IN OWNERSHIP!!!!!! He was always leery of PJ’s power grabs and the fact that his Ego rubbed Jerry West the wrong way. He always saw Phil as an outsider to a degree and did not want his hand on the controls of his beloved Lakers.
How would their father view the hiring of PHIL JACKSON to replace his chosen son after his chosen daughter fires his chosen son and then goes against his wishes in hiring HER FIANCE as the Lakers’ lead Shot Caller??? Hopefully he would view it as I do and say, “HELL NO!!!!!!!!!!” Then he would have to realize that Jeanie IS NOT CUT OUT FOR HER ROLE AS TEAM PRESIDENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hopefully, he’d have already seen Jim as unfit for his “job” as well.
That this Phil Jackson Return is even being mentioned as a viable possibility is terribly frightening to say the least.
In Honor of the Late Former First Lady Nancy Reagan (RIP), JUST SAY NO!!!!!!! to PJ part 3.
Scott is 50/50. That said, as I have been saying – this posts line of thinking on Scott synchs up with either cleaning house this summer (FO and Byron) or keeping the lot of them for one more year and then canning all of them in 17. In any case I am totally in favor of parting with all of them now. However for those of you who lambasted Scott and defended Jim all year, then – here is the result. Should have joined me on the quest to Clean House!
Um we are all here suffering just like you. There’s more of a chance that Byron doesn’t make it back next year than there is in your wish that the whole FO is swept out and “cleaned” as you wish it to be so. So why don’t you join the #fireBS team?
Also getting rid of the FO as you suggest would mean another 3 yrs of futility. I can only suffer 1, maybe 2 more years of crapball.
I am on that team. Clean House !!!!!
Jim is already gone. Just a question of when. Do you want to do it in 16 or wait until 17? do you want Jim to pick the new coach in 16 and then himself get fired in 17? Then the new VP of Ops gets yet another coach? Clean House !
Clay Bertrand says
Can you put down your Swiffer Wet Jet and PLEASE, FOR THE RECORD, lay out exactly WHY, Mitch Kupchak has to go??? Did he hire Jim Buss or insist on working with or UNDER him???? Please tell me that Mitch is a little bit of clutter we can afford to have around for awhile after your “team” CLEANS HOUSE.
This, ‘return to yesterday’ nostalgic sense of things will lead to us being left behind, standing there on past victory lane, while the rest of the league passes us by.
Like almost every other anti-Phil argument, this can be used to some extent against Jim as well. Jim has no serious quals of his own to deal with analytics and in many ways his position, like Byron’s hiring and Kobe’s deal, is a product of the past.
Clay: I am “OK” with Mitch staying. I would rather have a fresh start, but if you are proposing that Jim and Byron are gone and Mitch stays (in the summer of 16) – then where do I sign?
Clay Bertrand says
Robert, lol…..that is exactly what I am proposing. I’ll have something drawn up for you to sign ASAP!!!!
Lakers keep scott as coach,
Sign al jefferson, joe Johnson, and jared dudley all 1 year deals
The tankathon continues
Remember 2017 pick 1-3 is also protected
Remember jeanie as a typical woman would be hell bent on getting her way, that is phil working for the team
Also note did phil really want the job or did he just want jeanie to think he wanted the job, typical man wants her to think he tried to stay, then he takes.a.job in new york.
Dead on! Keep the picks! The tank job is full on! But rightfully so.
The Lakers deserve these picks for carrying the league for years.
Also, for helping two lame franchises by having “The Trade” voided at our expense.
Got some ballers coming out in 2017… Giles is the Truth!
Giles, Simmons or Ingram, DAR …. Future Lakers Big 3! … Rings Anyone?