Nearly a month ago, it was written that Byron Scott was on the coaches hot seat . If Scott was on the hot seat before the season actually started, then considering the LA Lakers are currently 1-8, you better believe that his arse is on fire.
Yes, often teams point fingers at the head coach as a reason for the team failures, but considering that the team appears to have already tuned out their bench boss out and become unresponsive to his offensive and defensive sets, it is best to just call it a day. For a team that has three key players in either their first or second season, and with this season already a wash, what reasoning is there to have their youth tied to the pine during key moments of the game?
At one point, I actually thought that Jim Buss had a master plan in which he was once again tanking the season so he could hold onto the top-three protected pick next summer, add Ben Simmons out of LSU and have a young core at four of the five positions. One can only dream.
After dropping a winnable season opener to the Timberwolves in which the Lakers held a sizeable lead in the second half, the team has gone on to lose games that they could have captured a victory against the Brooklyn Nets, NY Knicks and the Orlando Magic. Thinking that the team could be hovering around the .500 mark at this point in the season is not out of the realm of reality.
While Scott had success with Jason Kidd in New Jersey and Chris Paul in New Orleans, he has struggled to find the same results with D’Angelo Russell so far this season. Kidd and Paul were established as NBA players while Russell is only a handful of games into his pro career and has already had his share of struggles. But when it doesn’t seem like the No. 2 overall pick is a part of the offensive system, something has to give.
Defensively, the team looks lost each and every night. Considering that Scott has a reputation for a defense-first approach, the fact that the Lakers are once again at the bottom of the NBA in defensive efficiency doesn’t reflect well.
So if the offense isn’t clicking and the defense sounding is more like a collective thud than a click, the question becomes, who is available to take over as the Lakers 26th bench boss?
SCOTT BROOKS: Brooks has a history of working with young talent, more so than B. Scott does. With a core of Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka and Harden, the OKC Thunder had one of the great young teams in the league. Sure they messed up with the Harden trade and yes they have not won a chip, but to be fair to Brooks, untimely injuries to the three current Thunder stars during their recent playoff runs have been a big reason for the shortcomings. Brooks has shown that he isn’t against playing his young talent, something that Scott appears to see differently.
MARK JACKSON: As much as Steve Kerr gets credit for the Golden State Warriors success last season, the man who started it all sits at the broadcast table. From all accounts, Jackson was well liked in Oakland, allowing his players the freedom to run and gun, something that this Lakers offense would fair well with considering their youth. Defensively, Jackson was no slouch, using players like Andre Iguodala and Andrew Bogut as backcourt and frontcourt leaders on the Warriors end of the floor. Considering the success of the Warriors and the path the league seems to be taking in terms of offensive strategy, it seems like a solid choice to bring in someone familiar with implementing it.
TOM THIBODEAU: The one knock against bringing in Thibs is that he had a history in Chicago of playing his best players heavy minutes, sometimes even meaningless ones. The good part of that problem is if you take Kobe out of the equation, which he appears to have done himself a number of times already this season, the best players on the Lakers roster are the young ones. Sometimes there is no better way to learn than by doing. While fans didn’t always get to see if the Bulls were a run-and-gun team under Thibs due to various injuries, the former Chicago coach made sure that no matter who was on the floor, the team’s calling card was their defensive efficiency.
JEFF VAN GUNDY: The last time JVG had a clipboard in hand was 2007. Sure Van Gundy had success in New York and Houston in terms of taking his team to the playoffs, but that was when the league was more bump and grind. Now with the pace and space style of play, one has to wonder if the former coach has the ability to adapt his coaching style. Honestly, as much as JVG deserves another shot at running a team, it would be a huge loss from a broadcast standpoint. Not since the days of Bill Walton has the league had such an open-minded colorman.
BRIAN SHAW: Not many former Laker players have had as much success coaching the team as they did playing, unless your name is Pat Riley. Magic Johnson, Kurt Rambis (to be fair, Rambis sported a .649 winning percentage in his 37 game stint between Del Harris and Phil Jackson), Scott, either had a short term or failing record or both. Would bringing Shaw in be any different? From his tenure with the Denver Nuggets, Shaw’s style seemed similar to that of Scott in that he wanted to curtail the run and gun and pound the ball inside, despite that not being his team’s makeup. In the locker room, Shaw also repeatedly was reported to be more militant with his players, something that may not be to favorable in LA.
While there are plenty of quality assistant coaches, including Atlanta’s Kenny Atkinson, Cleveland’s Tyronn Lue (hmm, see former Laker players success) and Indiana’s Nate McMillan (Becky Hammon deserves a nod, but honestly, placing her in LA would just be a horrible fit on so many different accounts) that would fill the Lakers head coaching role better than Byron Scott currently is.
Is it fair to lay the blame completely on Scott, no, however, no matter which was you look at it, his strategy does not fit the current mold of the Lakers roster and therefore something has to give.