L.A.

Byron Scott the right choice as Lakers next head coach

The Los Angeles Lakers on late Saturday night made the decision to hire Byron Scott as the team’s next head coach on a four-year, $17 million contract.

The immediate reaction to the news was of no surprise given that he had interviewed for the job three times, and was the only person to have more than one sit down with the organization about the job.

The second reaction that occurred is that Scott was chosen because of his obvious connection to the franchise as he played 11 of his 14 years in the league with the Lakers, and also has a strong relationship with the team’s star in player Kobe Bryant. Then there is also his coaching style that has an emphasis on keeping players accountable on defense, which is something that did not appear to be with former head coach Mike D’Antoni.

However putting those initial reasons aside, the real question that arises is if he the right man for the job?

The answer that weighted inquiry is a short and simple yes.

Scott was one of several candidates that the team interviewed for the vacancy that included Mike Dunleavy, Alvin Gentry, Kurt Rambis, Lionel Hollins and also held an informal phone call about the position with George Karl. Seemingly, the 53-year-old’s name continued to stay relevant through the entire process.

He also remained the front runner as time passed, especially with the other candidates taking jobs with other teams with Rambis and Gentry accepting positions as an assistant coaches with the New York Knicks and Golden State Warriors respectively. Hollins’ also took his name off the list as he agreed to become the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets with Jason Kidd bolting for the Milwaukee Bucks.

Scott is an established head coach that has experienced much success in his 13 years of coaching in the league with three different franchises. This includes back-to-back Finals appearances with the New Jersey Nets, and a NBA Coach of the Year award in the 2007-08 season with the New Orleans Hornets as he guided them to the second-best record in the Western Conference.

He also had his struggles as a head coach as he had seven seasons with losing records, and an overall regular season winning percentage of .444. At the forefront of this was his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers, which he spent three years with the organization with a accumulated record of 64-166 and never won more than 24 games in any season.

Despite his difficulties with the Cavaliers, Scott was able to build strong relationships with his players, in particular Kyrie Irving, who stated after his firing following the 2012-13 season it was as if he lost his “basketball father.”

Via Foxsports Ohio’s Sam Amico:

“I feel like a piece of me is missing,” Irving said while looking at the ground. “I’m trying to get over the loss of my basketball father.”

For what it’s worth, he also had also developed a father-son type of relationship with Chris Paul in New Orleans. At the time of his dismissal from the Hornets at the conclusion of the 2009-10 season, Paul stated that Scott had solid communication between himself and the players.

Via NOLA.com’s John Reid:

“Coach had an open line of communication,” Paul said. “Guys would feel a certain way about playing time, and Coach was always honest with you. He was always straight-forward with you from Day One.”

That is another quality that Scott has and will need to have with the Lakers, especially with a team that has a healthy mix of young players and established veterans. For a head coach, communication between player and coach is an important part of the job, and Scott has made that something he emphasizes with that position.

All of this may indicate that he is the right hire for the Lakers, but there is one overriding factor that makes him right for the position and that is his pure desire to coach the team. Immediately following the news that he’d been hired, Scott spoke to CBS2/KCAL9 Sports Director Jim Hill and expressed his excitement about his new gig, but what stood out most from his comments was how he described the job.

Via USA TODAY Sports’ Sam Amick:

“It feels fantastic,” Scott said. “This is a dream come true. I always wanted to coach the Lakers, especially when I got to coaching. It’s so unreal. I have to thank (Lakers general manager) Mitch (Kupchak), (Lakers president and governor) Jeanie (Buss) and (executive vice president of player personnel) Jim Buss to give me this opportunity.”

Scott has long dreamed about coaching his former team, which is something that gives the job an entirely different feel to it. He is going to be the lead man for the team he had much success with as a player winning three titles in the Showtime Era in the 1980’s. This in turn, has put the Lakers in a special place in his heart and will make him more focused and determined to lead the team back to prominence.

The connection that he has with Los Angeles gives him extra motivation to do everything he can to turn things around quickly. It is that type of mindset that will certainly help give Scott a better chance of succeeding with the Lakers. Yes, the team’s ultimate success hinges on the roster the team puts together, but second on that list is the head coach.

The person at that job needs to have a stern disciplinarian voice, and Scott fits the bill in that area. Now that he has his ideal dream job, he is in prime position to do what he has hoped to do when he started coaching which is be the head coach that can lead the Lakers to another NBA title. It’s going be a long arduous road for Scott, but he is driven to accomplish that goal by any means possible.

Photo Credit: G Fiume/Getty Images

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Bob Garcia IV

Bob Garcia IV is a sports journalist from Southern California. He's currently the Los Angeles Lakers beat writer for Sports Out West. He was previously the beat writer for LA Rams Report for Scout.com, which is a website dedicated to covering the Rams. Lastly, he was a reporter for the award-winning newspaper, The Daily Sundial, at California State University, Northridge. You can follow him on Twitter, @BGarcia90.
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