I really don’t want to write about Byron Scott. In fact, I said the other day, after he made an appearance on ESPN, that I had done my final installment of #byronquotes. I mean, he is no longer the head coach of the Lakers and, with that, his influence is gone. He no longer manages the rotation, can’t bench (insert young Lakers’ player here) in crunch time again, and can’t offer any more quotes that make me roll my eyes and question why he still coaches the team.
Only, that last part isn’t 100% true. No, he’s not the coach so I no longer have to question that part. But, a recent media blitz in the wake of his firing has offered him plenty of opportunity to offer up more eye-roll-enducing quotes that incite reaction amongst Lakers’ fans and media (both local and national) alike. In the thirst for Lakers’ news, it is Byron Scott who is attempting to fill the vacuum. And maybe I am contributing to that here. But, after reading more of his comments over the last 24 hours, I simply cannot ignore him anymore. Even against my better judgement. So, here it goes…
Byron Scott seems to be the only person who does not grasp why Byron Scott is no longer the Lakers’ head coach.
First, it was comments to Rachel Nichols on her show The Jump that he was, basically, lied to by Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss about how much time he had in this job. Sure, his contract said he had a 4 year contract with team options in year 3 and 4, but those guarantees in only years 1 and 2 seemed to escape Byron and overridden by, in his mind at least, discussions that the first 2-3 years would be difficult. As if things being “difficult” meant his team could actually lose more games in year two than in year one while regressing in nearly every statistical category
Next, he did a long sit down with Bleacher Report’s Michael Pina, where he again reiterated his sense that he had more time on the job than what he was afforded while saying “loyalty is not what it used to be“. Well, then. He also doubled down on previous comments about D’Angelo Russell’s work ethic needing to improve while also discussing Kobe’s farewell tour without providing much context about how the times Kobe did not play well may have impacted how the team performed.
And now he spoke with Mark Medina of the LA Daily News and offered up more “insight” on his time with the team and how his tenure played out. Not only did he speak on the above comments, but he went a step further about his job security by saying if he knew his job was in jeopardy, he would have played his veteran players more than they did. Here is the money quote:
“If I knew this was coming, I would have played Lou [Williams], Brandon [Bass] and guys like that a whole lot more,” Scott said, referring to his veterans in an interview with this newspaper. “They gave me the best chance to win.”
No, I did not make that quote up. He actually said that. Again, it seems Byron Scott is the only person who does not seem to understand why Byron Scott is no longer employed.
I wrote many times that Byron had a near impossible task of juggling the conflicting priorities of sending Kobe Bryant out appropriately, getting his veteran players good minutes, and developing his young players. For this alone, he deserves some compassion, if only in recognition that few people would have been successful in producing wins in this environment.
That said, Scott’s comments reflect, once and for all, why he actually is no longer employed. He still thinks he was chasing wins when in fact what he should have been chasing was progress. Those two things are often related, but, in his unique case, they actually weren’t.
Via his recent media blitz, he’s continued to hold onto the idea that his only goal was to win games. But, what many — including, I suspect, his bosses — were really looking for was a semblance of growth and development of the players on his roster and a sense that Scott grasped this concept himself. That, instead of rushing out his veterans in a hope of securing a few extra wins, that he seemed to understand putting his players in positions to succeed consistently — via his rotations, minute allocations, offensive and defensive schemes — he could grow this team towards a future. That rather than winning now, he was preparing them to be able to win games eventually.
Scott, during his tenure, never grasped this. And, even in the wake of his options not being picked up, he still doesn’t seem to get it. And this, more than anything else, I suspect, is why he’s now doing TV and print interviews rather than preparing for the draft. And it is this lack of recognition, this lack of awareness, which truly did him in. It wasn’t a lack of loyalty or even a lack of wins, Byron. It was the fact that when it was time to really show you were capable of doing the job in a manner which reflected thoughtfulness and understanding of this position at this time, you failed.