Byron Scott: decision between drafting D’Angelo Russell or Kristaps Porzingis was “pretty close”

Byron Scott has had his fair share of media moments since being fired by the Los Angeles Lakers at the conclusion of the regular season. Scott has made numerous visits to sports talk shows to discuss everything about the Lakers and his upcoming book.

The most recent case of this media tour is Scott’s visit to the Dan Patrick Show where he most notably spoke about the Lakers’ draft process. While Scott maintained that the Lakers would “probably” still take D’Angelo Russell with the second pick in the draft, the coach admitted that the decision between the eventual Laker and Knicks forward Kristaps Pozingis was pretty close.

Scott had the following to say (h/t Harrison Faigen of Silver Screen and Roll):

“I’ll tell you what, that kid [Porzingis] has an upside that’s unbelievable,” said Scott. “He’s 7’3, and again, when we had him in to work out he wasn’t in great shape at that particular time You just didn’t see all of this. You knew the kid could be good but you thought he would be good in three to four years, you didn’t think he’d be good this year, this early.”

“Yes. [the discussion of whether or not to take Porzingis was] pretty close,” said Scott. “Like I said, he just came in town, he was pretty worn out after like 20 minutes. So you just didn’t get a chance to see everything he’s capable of doing until the season started and we saw him in the summer league. I said ‘whoa, this kid’s going to be good.’ So there was serious discussion about him, and probably if he’d have been in great shape, then there would have been even more serious discussions about him.”

After their rookie seasons, it is fair to wonder whether or not the Lakers should have drafted Porzingis. The Latvian-born big-man burst onto the scene early and showed the tremendous potential he has as a unique player. He did hit somewhat of a rookie wall later in the season and Russell overcame a rocky start to his career to at least close the gap if not surpass Porzingis in terms of success in the two players’ first seasons in the NBA.

The issue here isn’t whether or not the Lakers made the right choice. It is still far too early to discuss that as both Russell and Porzingis look to be future stars in the league.

The issue is that Scott continues to discuss what should be confidential matters as if he were actually involved in them. Scott was barely involved in the draft process, if at all, and general manager Mitch Kupchak has admitted as much. Whether Scott was enamored with Porzingis’ potential in his workout or not is a fairly moot point because he had little to no say in who the Lakers were going to draft (and Ronnie Price was not available).

Scott has turned his frequent bashing of players in the media into, well, the same thing. The only difference is that now he is not affiliated with those players in any way. He still calls Russell immature and childish and he still attempts to bring doubt into the Lakers’ decision to draft the Ohio State product.

The problem for Scott is that the organization has favored the young point guard over the old-school Showtime Laker. They stuck with him during “Snapchat-gate” and they fired the head coach that did not get along with him. Scott can continue to put in doubts and speak about other young players glowingly but we all know fully well that under his coaching and tutelage (if you can call them that) Porzingis would have had the same struggles that Russell did.

Instead, Scott can continue to go on television and give sound-bites that make the news because they involve the player that will likely be in Los Angeles long after Scott is gone. Maybe it helps promote his book, but the quotes do not help him recover from his reputation as a terrible coach and communicator and an immense exaggerator of what his role in Los Angeles actually was.

Good luck to Mr. Scott with his book and future television appearances.

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