Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak on Monday had stated that the team plans to make their next hire within the next couple of weeks once the roster takes shape. They have already made a few moves in the free agency period by re-signing Nick Young (four-years, $21.5 million) and Jordan Hill (two-years, $18 million). Los Angeles has also acquired Jeremy Lin, a future first round draft pick, and a 2015 second round selection from the Houston Rockets in exchange for the rights to center Sergei Lishchuk.
“Maybe we can wait until September,” Kupchak joked. “Obviously that’s one of the next things that we’re going to address, and with putting the roster together and getting through the draft and getting through this last period, a week or two, the next thing we’re going to work on is the coach, and I think we’re going to have somebody in the next couple weeks.”
Scott, 53, is considered by many as the odds-on favorite for the Lakers’ head coach vacancy due to his ties to the organization, as he spent 11 of his 14 years in the NBA with the team and has a strong relationship with Kobe Bryant. The Lakers’ star gave Scott a ringing endorsement for the job at a press conference last week at his annual youth basketball camp at the UC Santa Barbara campus.
“He was my rookie mentor when I first came into the league,” Bryant said of Scott before endorsing the former Showtime-era Lakers great for the job. “So I had to do things like get his doughnuts and run errands for him and things like that. We’ve had a tremendously close relationship throughout the years. So, obviously I know him extremely well. He knows me extremely well. I’ve always been a fan of his.”
Scott is an established head coach that has had much success in his 13 years on the sidelines. In his first gig, he led the then-New Jersey Nets to back-to-back Finals appearances. He won the NBA Coach of the Year award in the 2007-08 season by guiding the then-New Orleans Hornets to the second-best record in the Western Conference.
Los Angeles has also interviewed several other candidates for the vacancy including Mike Dunleavy, Alvin Gentry, Kurt Rambis and Lionel Hollins, and had an informal phone call about the job with George Karl. Three of the coaching options have already accepted positions with other teams as both Gentry (Golden State Warriors) and Rambis (New York Knicks) have joined assistant coaching staffs. Hollins is also no longer a possibility as two weeks ago he agreed to become the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets after Jason Kidd left the job for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Although Scott is the only person to have interviewed multiple times with the Lakers, he knows that the team’s primary focus at this moment is to build the roster before making hiring their next head coach.
“It’s still open,” Scott said when asked about the coaching position during a call-in segment with the Lakers’ television partner, Time Warner Cable SportsNet, on Friday. “I know, in my dealings in talking with Mitch and Jim [Buss, vice president of player personnel], they want to get the roster together and then focus on the coaching. So, myself, or whoever else are the other candidates, that’s what we’re all waiting for and we’re kind of looking at what’s going on [in free agency] to see if that’s all done and then see next week what they’re going to do with the coaching vacancy.”
Los Angeles currently has seven players under contract in Bryant, Lin, Young, Hill, Steve Nash, Robert Sacre, and the seventh overall pick in this year’s draft in Julius Randle. They are also expected to pick up the team option for next season on Kendall Marshall and sign the 46th overall pick Jordan Clarkson, who the Lakers paid $1.8 million to get the selection from the Washington Wizards.
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