The Lakers haven’t exactly been in a hurry to replace Mike D’Antoni, who resigned as Lakers head coach in late April with one year still remaining on his contract.
There have been interviews, but only with tenured coaches that have had experience in that job at the NBA level. It’s been largely quiet in terms of the team getting closer to making a decision, with the Lakers reportedly wanting to see what happens in free agency (i.e., whether or not they can land someone like Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love or even LeBron James) before pulling the trigger on their next coaching hire.
The latest report, however, has Byron Scott as the man at the top of the list.
While the Lakers remain focused on Thursday’s draft and the start of free agency July 1, sources tell ESPN.com that former Lakers star Byron Scott has emerged as the leading candidate for the head-coaching job after impressing in three interviews with the team.
Scott, former Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins, former Suns coach Alvin Gentry and former Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy have had formal interviews with general manager Mitch Kupchak and vice president of player personnel Jim Buss.
Most Lakers fans have been underwhelmed by this list, even though Gentry or Hollins seem like fine choices. The main reason being, while other clubs have made bold decisions in hiring first-time NBA coaches — like Brad Stevens in Boston, David Blatt in Cleveland or even Derek Fisher in New York — L.A. seems content to pursue what many would consider to be re-tread candidates.
Scott had some success in his first head coaching gig, taking the New Jersey Nets to two straight NBA Finals appearances in 2002 and 2003. He then coached five full seasons in New Orleans, peaking with a run to the second round of the playoffs in the 2008 season.
His most recent experience, however, was a dismal one in Cleveland, taking over in the team’s first year following the departure of LeBron James and never winning more than 24 games in any of his three seasons.
The Lakers are holding off to see what free agency brings. But if (as expected) they don’t land any of the major players available, Scott appears to be in line to become the team’s next head coach.