Today is a very unique and special day for the Los Angeles Lakers, their fans, and of course, its leader of the last two decades.
It marks the end of a legendary career for Kobe Bryant, who will lace up his signature Nikes one final time. It will be an emotional day for Bryant, the franchise and fans everywhere as the purple and gold prepare to say goodbye to perhaps the greatest player to ever wear a Lakers jersey.
The emotions will range from sadness upon his departure from the game of basketball, to jubilation in remembrance of everything Kobe has done for the sixteen-time NBA champions. One of the emotions we didn’t expect, however, was anger. Well, thanks to one report, the ever familiar feeling that has been expressed by fans the last three years has crept back into the picture today.
Wednesday being Byron Scott’s final game as Lakers head coach appeared to be a foregone conclusion as the team enters an absolutely crucial offseason. But according to CBS Sports’ Ken Berger, a completely different path may be taken this summer.
Believe it or not, Byron Scott has what one source described as a “major chance” to stay with the Lakers; Jeanie Buss is said to be pushing for Scott behind the scenes. If so, it could clear the way for a top-to-bottom reset for the franchise in 2017, and the possible return of Jackson to run basketball operations with Luke Walton as the coach. There are a lot of dots to be connected to get from here to there, though — not to mention a lot more games for the Lakers to lose.
The Lakers have hit plenty of low points the last three seasons, but this could ultimately be the lowest if they elect to bring Scott back for a third season. There has really been nothing positive during his coaching tenure in Los Angeles. The team set a franchise low the past two seasons in wins, with 21 last year and 16 this year with a loss to the Jazz, or 17 with a win.
Really, the only reason that I could see him being brought back is because of Jeanie. There have been numerous reports of her wanting to bring her fiancé, Phil Jackson, over from the Knicks next summer to assume the role of lead basketball decision maker. If it happens, it will be rationalized by either a lack of talent or the distraction of Bryant’s farewell tour, despite both being poorly managed by Scott.
It does not make any sense for the general manager and vice president of basketball operations combination of Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss to set this all up, seeing as Jackson would be effectively replacing their roles in the front office, meaning they would likely be ousted.
For Jim, he has next season to fulfill his self-proposed promise on the timeline he made for himself to get the Lakers back into contention. Does retaining a notoriously dreadful head coach who has yet to adapt to the current NBA model sound like a move that someone in that position would make?
For he and Kupchak, a seemingly obvious avenue to explore would be to shake things up, starting with the head coaching position. Perhaps giving it everything they have with a pursuit of an established, revered coach in Tom Thibodeau is their best option. Or maybe it is rolling the dice on a candidate with upside, such as former Laker player and current Golden State Warriors assistant coach, Luke Walton.
Jeanie Buss has been adamant that she does not make basketball decisions for the Lakers. She handles the business aspect of things. But if Scott is brought back for a third year, she will have some explaining to do. Because it would seem obvious that she is steering towards getting Jackson back in Los Angeles next summer.
As I mentioned earlier, this offseason is pivotal for the Lakers. Changes to the roster certainly need to be made. But no matter who is brought in next season, they are going to need a better leader than Scott. The time for change is now, especially at head coach. At the end of the day, insanity is doing something the same way and expecting different results. Don’t be insane, Lakers.