As of right now, the Los Angeles Lakers have a head coach under contract in Byron Scott. But after two seasons that have seen the Lakers set a franchise worst record in each of them, it is safe to say that he is on the hot seat.
Scott’s contract still has one more year on it before the front office would have to make a decision on a team option for the fourth and final season, but he could obviously be terminated as head coach at any time.
If it was up to the fans, he would be gone yesterday. The Lakers front office, however, has not yet made its decision. The offseason is less than a week old for Los Angeles, but fans are already looking forward to the possible outcomes that this summer could hold. One of those could potentially be a coaching change, which has some candidates’ names being linked to the team if the job becomes available.
Of those possible candidates, Golden State Warriors assistant coach and former Laker player Luke Walton will be sought after by a number of teams. Walton held down the fort while Steve Kerr recovered from back surgery to start the year, helping lead the defending champions to a 24-0 start.
The New York Knicks are in a similar situation as the Lakers, and it appears that Phil Jackson has reached out to his former player for the team’s head coaching job. Unfortunately for the Zen Master, it sounds like he didn’t get the answer he wants.
The Knicks have Carmelo Anthony in place and made progress from a year ago, but apparently it still is not enough to appeal to Walton. At least, not yet.
That would likely rule out the Lakers then, right? Not so fast.
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Of course, to officially be in play, there has to actually be a job opening. But if it comes available, it sounds like there would be interest from potential candidates around the league.
The Lakers are coming off a season that saw them win just 17 games and say goodbye to Kobe Bryant, so there are certainly some major question marks surrounding the team. Luckily for them, they have some resources that could help present answers to those questions.
If they get lucky in the lottery again next month, they will have a top-three pick in the NBA Draft, adding to their young core. Additionally, they will have upwards of around $60 million in cap space this summer to throw at free agents.
Walton could be really patient, seeing as his coaching stock has soared because of his efforts this season. Kerr was linked to the Knicks and Lakers jobs before the Warriors position became available, and that was obviously the right choice. Perhaps Walton waits for a more appealing opening. Only time will tell.
The Lakers have a lot of work to do, and addressing their current issue at head coach should be what gets them started. As a young coaching candidate with a lot of upside, getting Walton in hopes that he could grow with the young pieces on the roster would make a lot of sense for Los Angeles.