The tension is still there.
Byron Scott was fired by the Los Angeles Lakers in late April of 2016. During Scott’s tenure with the Lakers, losing was the mainstay in his time with LA. Another constant was, well, still is a spat with D’Angelo Russell.
Throughout their lone season together with the Lakers, Scott and Russell did not have the rosiest relationship. Between Snapchat scandals and lack of playing time, the coach and the Lakers’ top pick relationship never got off the ground.
Today in an interview on LA AM570 radio with Fred Roggin, Scott opened up a little about the second-year guard and delved into the chances of Russell reaching his full potential.
“I don’t know. Obviously, the jury is still out. He still has a lot of growing up to do. Still has a lot of room to improve. There’s times where you see flashes of what we feel that he can be. I’m sure they [the Lakers] feel the same way, that this guy can be a great player in this league.
But he’s got to grow up. He’s got to take the responsibility of being one of the leaders of the team, one of the better players on the team. Until he does that, he’s gonna keep having these up and downs. But I still think the kid has the potential to be a great player.”
Coach Scott didn’t stop there. One of the biggest knocks on Russell has been the effort he’s put in to becoming a top player, and Scott did not hold back any feelings towards that sentiment.
“Now, will he reach it? That’s really strictly up to D’Angelo. He has to put in the work. One of my biggest things with him was you can’t be a first, second or third year player and practice is at 11 and you walk on the floor at 10:50. You got to be there early, you gotta work your butt off to get to where you want to get to.
I mean, it’s not going to happen overnight. You got to put in that effort every single day. If practice is only two hours, you have to be out there on that floor maybe three and a half hours. A lot of it is going to be is wanting to get to the point where you’re one of the best players in this league.
Like I said, it’s not going to happen overnight, it’s something you have to work on a day-to-day basis. And it starts in the summer and it parlays into the regular season. And you still have to have that mindset that you want to be great in this league.”
Scott may even think Russell, among other young NBA players, already thinks he’s earned the right to be in the position he’s in despite a lack of professional experience.
“It’s not given to you, and I think that’s a lot of what the young players think today. When they walk in now they think you owe them. You know, and I always felt when you walk in- brother, you gotta show me, I ain’t gotta show you. I’ve been there, I’ve done this. You gotta show me.
And when he starts to really grow up and mature, and he’s gotta obviously stop getting hurt and play for a longer period of time, then hopefully he can reach that potential. But right now, the jury is still out.”
Even with a strained relationship, Scott still thinks Russell can be a great player. Talent is not and was never the question with Russell. However, when asked by Roggin whether how long before the team decides Russell has reached his ceiling and it is time to go in a different direction, Scott let on that he does not think the Lakers are going to give Russell all of the time in the world to actually tap into that potential, rather than just showing flashes.
“Everybody is different. Every organization is different. Every timetable is different. This might be a four-year timetable. I don’t know. That’s a question I can’t answer. That’s obviously a Mitch or Jim Buss question.
But, going into this year, they were really thinking he was going to take a giant leap and he hasn’t done that. So do you wait for another year to see if he takes that leap?
That’s a good question. I don’t know, but I’m sure they’re sitting in their meetings trying to figure out how to get this ship right, as well. But that’s probably the biggest question they’re going to have to face.”
As of right now, D’Angelo Russell is one of the faces of the now-youthful Lakers franchise and Byron Scott is working on his golf game. Russell has continued to show flashes of the pure scoring and elite court vision but has been hampered by injuries in his second NBA season. Alas, that hasn’t stopped him from working, at least that is what his trainer had to say.
— Robbie Haught (@RobbieHaught) January 23, 2017
Whether Russell will be the next great player to don the Purple and Gold remains to be seen, but he is equipped with the game, tools and the right coach to get him to that point. After all, he is still #Loading.