Byron Scott is no longer the Lakers’ coach. While a vocal portion of fans rejoice loudly, right with them there is also a chorus of questions about next steps and whether those in charge are going to make a coaching decision which propels the team forward. The doubts this will happen are real and they exist for the exact reason there is even a choice to make now.
Lakers determined to cast very wide net and take their time w/ coaching search. This could take weeks still. And really, what's the rush?
— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) June 2, 2014
Look at the date stamp on the tweet above. Now look at the one on the tweet below.
Lakers expected to compile a "long list" of coaching candidates to replace Scott. “It’ll be a lot,” said a person familiar with the process.
— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) April 25, 2016
These came nearly two years apart, but message is pretty much exactly the same. We know what happened two years ago. We also know what happened after Phil Jackson walked away in the summer before the 2011 lockout. Then, again, in November of 2012. What will happen this year?
I wrote back in March of 2014 that it was “now Jim Buss’ time”. Since then the Lakers’ front office, headed by Jim, has parted ways with Mike D’Antoni, completed an interview process limited to candidates with previous head coaching experience, hired Byron Scott (after multiple interviews), and, on Sunday, parted ways with Byron Scott.
I am not here to put the guillotine over Buss and the rest of the front office’s necks. But those things happened and it’s at least part of what they should be judged on.
So, in moving forward, it’s fair to ask if things will be the same. If you look at the second of those two tweets up there and combine it with the various reports of potential candidates, you get the sense that things are shaping up to be different. If you’re skeptical about that, I don’t blame you though. I don’t think anyone could.
Favorites are already being identified both among fans and media alike. Luke Walton will be a popular name and he should be. Ettore Messina intrigues at least one writer (okay, he intrigues me). The college ranks are en vogue again (or were they ever not?) and have more than one possible candidate. And there will be several other former NBA coaches who also throw their hat into the ring.
I’m not ready to say I have a favorite as of yet. I’m still wrapping my head around the idea that Scott has been fired and that the Lakers are again looking for a head coach. I am also trying to find the right balance between the optimism which comes from change and the cynicism which comes from going through this process again with the same men leading the search.
This much is clear, though, there is nowhere for the decision makers to hide now. Whatever role Dr. Buss had in the hiring of Mike Brown and Mike D’Antoni, his passing leaves only Jim and Mitch to decide. There is no longer the allure of the ex Showtime guard and Kobe confidante as there was with Scott. And with Kobe retired, there is no longer the specter of appeasing and/or placating to him for this coach.
No, this hire is only on Jim and Mitch. And it comes about a year before Jim’s deadline to produce a massive improved team. Yes, they also needed to get the previous hires right, but they really need to get this one right. Let’s see how it goes.