As we relayed yesterday, the Lakers have hired former Bulls’ Director of Sports Performance Jen Swanson, adding her to the team’s Training Staff. As noted in that post, and reported by Kevin Ding, Swanson effectively replaces the departed Judy Seto who was the team’s lead physical therapist.
In the wake of that report, there have been questions about Judy Seto’s departure from the team since there was no formal announcement by the team about a change and, at the time the Swanson report, we had not heard anything from Seto stating she was retiring. That changed when Seto put out the following on Twitter:
— Judy Seto (@judyseto) September 14, 2016
Well, there you go.
The Lakers have a history of making these types of changes when there is “regime” change of some sort with the team — especially when tied to people on the training staff. When Phil Jackson retired after the 2011 season and the NBA dealt with a protracted lockout, then Athletic Performance Coordinator Alex McKechnie was not retained by the team. McKechnie was well regarded by the players and Jackson, but that was not enough to keep him on board. He was quickly snatched up by the Raptors and is currently their Director of Sports Science.
In terms of Seto — who is also well regarded — she was not necessarily tied to recently jettisoned Byron Scott (the way McKechnie was tied to Phil), but she was certainly tied to Kobe Bryant. While Seto was head physical therapist for the entire team, many reports in the last few years tell a story of her working very closely (if not almost exclusively) with Kobe. Kobe, of course, is no longer with the team. And now, neither is Seto.
I do not see this as a coincidence.
I am not calling this change good or bad. I do not know the inner-workings of the training staff nor any of the personal dynamics at play to speak on this with great authority. That said, by connecting some dots, the move falls in line with the way they have handled some things in the past. Beyond Kobe, I think it would also be fair — though speculative — to point to Gary Vitti’s retirement as another “change” which could have influenced this move.
In any event, now we know a bit more about the circumstances in which Swanson was brought on and Seto no longer being with the team. I wish Seto nothing but the best in whatever her next move is, though. She has a great reputation and I would imagine would be a great get for another organization.