If you thought the fan outcry for Mike D’Antoni to be fired as head coach of Los Angeles Lakers was loud at the time, the same sentiment for Byron Scott is deafening. The uproar is so vigorous at this point that not even the franchise that Scott won three championships with as a player can ignore it.
On Monday, the social media stratosphere was a raging fire of criticism aimed toward Scott, with Los Angeles Clippers analyst Don MacLean igniting the flame. During Friday’s telecast for the matchup between the Lakers and Clippers, MacLean reflected on the time that he worked with D’Angelo Russell before the NBA Draft last year and suggested a change in Scott’s handling of the 19-year-old.
“I really wish Byron Scott would just give D’Angelo Russell the keys and say, ‘You know what? Go for it man.’ If Byron Scott would just say, ‘You know what, D’Angelo? I don’t care if you turn it over 15 times tonight, you’re going to play 35 minutes. Go for it, and go for it,’ [Russell] will figure it out. He really will.”
MacLean’s comments drew the ire of Scott, triggering a response from the Lakers’ head coach.
“First of all to Don, that’s why you not coaching. Let’s put it that way. You don’t let a guy go out there and just almost embarrass himself or kill himself by playing 35 minutes and creating 10, 12, 15 turnovers. The one thing it can do is self-destruct him as an individual. So what I try to do as far as teaching him and also protect him from making mistakes like that, and from getting ridiculed after a game like that.”
The back-and-forth dialogue didn’t stop there. MacLean then fired back by saying, “Just because you choose to coach doesn’t mean you’re a good coach.”
MacLean basically voiced the general opinion of the Lakers’ massive fan base in regards to Scott as a coach. Fans have continuously been growing more and more impatient and frustrated with the handling of the team’s young talent, especially when it comes to Russell and Julius Randle. The commotion from fans and the media has been loud enough as of late that the team is hearing it loud and clear.
Part-owner and President of the Lakers, Jeanie Buss, acknowledged the feedback she personally receives from fans on social media outlets.
Lakers Twitter Family: Checking in w/you to let you know I read all the tweets you send and value your constructive feedback. #Respect
— Jeanie Buss (@JeanieBuss) February 2, 2016
If that really is the case, then it is obvious that she can see that fans are demanding a change at the head coaching position. Scott is in the second year of his four-year contract, although the final year is a team option. So the Lakers could agree to a buyout on the remainder of his contract if they elect to let him go, like they did with D’Antoni. They would have to pay Scott for just the one year, since the team option year would be voided.
Although it seems like a foregone conclusion to many, Scott is expected to remain the team’s head coach for the remainder of this season. Can he do anything to buy himself some more time? According to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, he has the final 32 games to make his case.
People close to the organization think this season’s final 2½ months are a trial of sorts. It would help Scott’s chances if the young players showed growth and the games were more competitive. There has to be hope, not despair.
Seeing as there really is not a single promising future coaching candidate on the entire staff, it makes sense that the Lakers would prefer to keep Scott as the head coach for the remainder of the season. Beyond that, though, it’s going to be extremely difficult for him to turn this whole thing around.
Scott’s team is on pace to set a new franchise low for wins in a season for the second straight year, despite being projected by most people to be around 30 wins this season. As a result of Los Angeles’ current 9-40 record, Scott’s coaching record has continued to plummet, giving him the worst win percentage of the 25 coaches in the history of the Lakers.
The future looks bleak for Scott. Given the amount of heat he has taken from just about all angles this season, it is hard to imagine the team giving him another season, barring a miracle in the last two months of the season. If said miracle doesn’t happen, a third season with Scott at the helm would be an impossible sell to the fan base from the front office.
This offseason for the Lakers will be crucial one. Upgrading the talent on the roster is an absolute must. Whether they will be fortunate enough to retain their first-round draft pick remains to be seen, but Los Angeles will likely have upwards of $60 million in salary cap space to use in free agency.
A number of new players will certainly be brought in, and all signs are pointing to the Lakers needing to hire a new leader for them.