Scott joined the Lakers in ’14 after coaching Chris Paul with the New Orleans Hornets and Kyrie Irving with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Fast forward two seasons, he was fired after leading the Lakers’ to the worst season record in franchise history (17-65). He finished his tenure in LA with a win percentage of .301.
Now to be fair, Byron didn’t have a lot to work with. Kobe Bryant spent the half of Scott’s first season there injured before embarking on a farewell tour in ’15/’16. The rest of the roster consisted of young players trying to make a name for themselves or veterans fighting for their NBA contracts.
And while Scott did a good job managing Bryant during his final seasons — he later said he felt used after the team made him a scapegoat for the organization’s struggles — the former Lakers coach received a lot of criticism for handling other members of the team. Most notably from D’Angelo Russell. Jim Eyen, Scott’s assistant coach, described the dynamic between the two for the book “Built To Lose: How the NBA’s Tanking Era Changed the League Forever.”
I think Byron coached D’Angelo from the heart. He did what he thought the best thing for D’Angelo was. It would have been easier had he just taken the path of least resistance. But he didn’t. It’s a lot more difficult to try to do it, what you feel is the right way, and discipline when you need to disciple. Pat him on the butt me give him accolades when he deserves it, and just do what you need to do for not only the team, but for the long term of the player.Jim Eyen, Built to Lose: How the NBA’s Tanking Era Changed the League Forever
Russell, however, viewed their relationship differently. Many guys on the roster were as young as he, and yet, none of them were handled with the same kids gloves. That’s why DLo lost all respect for Scott as a head coach.
He’s an idiot. I just think he was malicious for no reason. He’s a solid man. But as a coach, he was bad. He was just bad at his job.D’Angelo Russell, Built to Lose: How the NBA’s Tanking Era Changed the League Forever
Russell himself admitted he didn’t do enough to bridge the gap between the two of them. And looking back on it, he probably would’ve handled that differently if for nothing else than to change perceptions about his maturity early on.
I was just young. I used to do all types of sh*t to avoid talking to him.D’Angelo Russell, Built to Lose: How the NBA’s Tanking Era Changed the League Forever
The young prospect was held on a short leash and was never able to find out why. In the process of finding out, he would get yanked late in the close games, with Scott refusing to explain why. Russell felt he did it to “spark controversy and attention for his postgame media availability.” Let’s hope that wasn’t the case.
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