The Los Angeles Lakers are not expected to be a playoff team in 2015-2016. The most that should be expected from the team is streamlining the development of their young talent and sending Kobe Bryant off without a major injury. The pressure on Byron Scott should not be immense by any means. He is in a situation where the Lakers have had four coaches since 2011 and would like some stability at the position. It would take some horrible decisions for them to consider firing a coach in a year where the Lakers are not competitive. It took four games for Scott to lose this goodwill.
It starts with D’Angelo Russell. Russell was on the bench for the entirety of the 4th quarter while watching the 7th overall pick Emmanuel Mudiay make some key plays and contribute to Denver’s victory over the Lakers on Tuesday night. Scott said postgame that it came down to Lou Williams playing well.
It is a questionable decision to not play Russell in the last few minutes of a game, and it is a bad one to not play the rookie at all in the 4th quarter. Making matters worse, Russell has been left unsure how to get playing time in the clutch. It appears that Scott believes Russell would be better off watching the game from the sideline, but this is hard to accept when you have a rookie on the other team playing crunch time minutes.
Additionally, Scott took a shot at Mudiay for perceiving him to “not be a true point guard”. Such criticism is a bad look for the coach as well as being wrong, Mudiay was not passed on for Russell. He was passed on because he was not a top three choice at the time of the draft. Scott might have been sticking up for Russell, but it backfired because it was unnecessary.
It is not just the Lakers’ youth Scott has mishandled. He has also failed to coach Kobe Bryant. As a friend of Bryant’s, Scott was advertised as a man Kobe would respect enough to let reduce his usage as he ages. Instead, Scott has seemingly let Kobe have free rein to do whatever he wants on the floor. To say that Kobe is the last person to be worried about is very concerning. His field goal percentage is at 32% and he is shooting 20% from three. What does Kobe Bryant have to do in order for Byron Scott to be worried?
Byron Scott is in a precarious situation. He should not be fired right now, but if he maintains this bad form as a coach, his employment will have to be at the very least questioned by the front office just as much as it has been by the Lakers fanbase.
It has been four games and things are not good in Los Angeles. It is on Byron Scott to do his part to help turn things around.