Report: Lakers, Byron Scott agree to four-year, $17 million deal to coach team

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Byron Scott is in a tough position as the Lakers coach. Right now he is essentially a placeholder.

But a well-paid placeholder as the Lakers and Scott have reached a deal, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

The Los Angeles Lakers have agreed to terms on a four-year, $17 million contract with Byron Scott to be their next head coach, sources told ESPN. The Lakers hold a team option on the final year of the deal.

The buzz around the league the debate was over years, not dollars. The Lakers are trying to figure out who their next star will be and then once they get that what system best fits that star. That system may or may not be something you want Scott to coach, but they didn’t want a long-term committment to him in case they need to go another direction. The Lakers preferred a two-year deal, Scott likely wanted four, this is a compromise.

Our own Brett Pollakoff detailed why the Lakers ultimately settled for Scott (if you’re the leading candidate yet it took three months before they picked you, they settled). For one thing, this is the guy Kobe Bryant wanted. Still, it’s not going to be easy for Scott. The Lakers are going to spend the next couple years working to get another superstar or two, the guy or guys to be face of the franchise after Kobe Bryant steps away. Until then they do not want to commit to a specific style of play or format, they want to be flexible. Scott has to be that guy, hold the fort until we get the stars in place and know who we want to be.

That’s not how the Lakers will sell it. They will sell “he’s part of the family.” They will sell player development and defense as his skills, even though at his last couple stays those things never really surfaced.

But the Lakers got their man. Kobe’s man. A guy who has been to the Finals as a coach (even though his star player ran him off after that), a guy with rings as a Lakers player, a guy who is part of the family. That is what they can sell.

Marreese Speights opts out of Clippers contract

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The Clippers are unraveling.

Of course, whether they can re-sign Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are the big questions. But they also must deal with smaller matters in free agency – like Marreese Speights.

Speights will opt out, his agent tweeted:

The Clippers will hold Speights’ Non-Bird Rights (technically a form of Bird Rights), allowing them to give him a starting salary up to $2,540,346 without using cap space or the mid-level exception.

The 29-year-old Speights, a stretch five who takes charges, fits the modern NBA. He could probably get more if he seeks it.

The Clippers won’t have cap space unless they lose Paul and Griffin, and at that point, re-signing a veteran like Speights is of little use. So, it would likely require the taxpayer mid-level exception or Speights taking a discount to keep him.

Luc Mbah a Moute can and likely will also opt out, and he’ll fall in the same Non-Bird situation. The Clippers would likely prioritize their mid-level exception for him – if it’s enough for either player.

Keeping Paul and Griffin is of the utmost importance, but that’s not the Clippers’ only challenge. Even if they keep those two stars, assembling even a decent supporting cast will difficult. Possibly losing J.J. Redick is the main issue there, but handling Speights’ and Mbah a Moute’s roster spots will also be pivotal.

Warriors struggle to get Zaza Pachulia’s 2017 NBA Finals hat on his big head (video)

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Zaza Pachulia became the villain of the Western Conference finals when he injured Kawhi Leonard and torpedoed the Spurs chances of upsetting the Warriors.

But his teammates stood by him – then shared this fun moment with him after Golden State won the West.

Reporter asks Spanish-speaking Manu Ginobili whether he just announced retirement (video)

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Manu Ginobili received an emotional sendoff in the Spurs’ season-ending – and maybe Ginobili’s career-ending – loss to the Warriors last night.

The postgame press conference featured a lighthearted moment when, after the Argentinian guard answered a couple questions in Spanish, an American reporter – not wanting to miss big news – asked whether Ginobili had just announced his retirement.

No, Ginobili assured the reporter. He says he plans to take a few weeks to consider his options.

Warriors make most dominant playoff run ever to NBA Finals

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Moses Malone famously predicted the 76ers team would go “”Fo’, Fo’, Fo'” in the 1983 playoffs, sweeping all three rounds in four games. Philadelphia didn’t quite do it – sweeping the Knicks, beating the Bucks in five then sweeping the Lakers for the title.

Thirty-four years later, an NBA team went “”Fo’, Fo’, Fo'” for the first time.

Golden State swept the Trail Blazers, Jazz and Spurs in four-game series. But with an extra playoff round, the Warriors’ 12-0 run merely gets them to the Finals.

It’s the ninth undefeated run to the Finals, third since the league adopted four playoff rounds in 1984 and first since the first round became best-of-seven. The Lakers went 11-0 in the playoffs en route to the Finals in 2001 and 1989.

By winning an extra game and outscoring opponents by 16.3 points per game, Golden State now claims the most dominant postseason run to the NBA Finals ever.

Here are the top paths to the Finals, with Finals results, by playoff…

Record (point difference per game in parentheses):

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Point difference per game (record in parentheses):

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This doesn’t guarantee Golden State a championship. The Cavaliers (10-1, +11.9) are on track for an elite run to the Finals themselves, and they have LeBron James.

But the Warriors put ridiculous expectations on themselves by signing Kevin Durant to join a 73-win team featuring Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. I’m unsure a Golden State title this year will be properly appreciated, but so far, the Warriors are doing all they can to clear a bar set unreasonably high.