The Lakers have made it clear that this season is about celebrating Kobe Bryant’s legacy above all else, and that’s likely the reason that Byron Scott is still employed as the team’s head coach.
Bryant was Scott’s rookie when he entered the league in 1996, and the two share a bond from their time in the league together as teammates. It made sense for the Lakers to have Scott as the coach who would usher Bryant into retirement, in order to make his final season or two in Los Angeles go as smoothly as possible.
But Scott has proven that he’s not qualified to lead the young Lakers into their next era of greatness, and his recent comments on the handling of rookie D’Angelo Russell are the latest in a series of poor decisions that should lead to his exit once the current season is finished.
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"He’s not old enough for me to have a meeting with him to discuss ‘What does he think?’ ” Scott said, via the Los Angeles Times. “He’s such a kid. I told him the other day, ‘You’re 19 but sometimes I think you’re 14.’ And then sometimes I say, ‘You’re 19 but sometimes, like today, you’re 22, 23.’ We have a real playful relationship because he’s such a playful kid. At practice he has fun until we say, ‘All right, let’s get serious,’ because it’s practice. Shoot-around is the same thing. But you can’t help but just smile and like the kid.”
These are alarming statements from a head coach who should be working tirelessly to develop his young players. Instead, Scott seems to be more interested in making sure that Russell simply knows his place.
Scott has hinted that Russell may return to the starting lineup at some point after the All-Star break, but he should be there now. This may be Bryant’s final NBA season, but it’s a lost one for the Lakers franchise. The rookies should be getting as much on-court experience as possible, but Scott doesn’t see that, which is further evidence that he must be replaced as soon as this dismal season is finished.