D'Angelo Russell and Byron Scott did not get along.
Like 95 percent of screwed up relationships, both parties shared blame in this one. Russell came in with an ego and was not putting in the work the team wanted to see. Scott responded to this with old-school discipline — benching Russell — and not communicating why. This led to a downward spiral, both of their relationship and the Lakers last season.
Luke Walton relates to players. How good a head coach he will be remains to be seen, but he was a player and is not old enough to have reached Scott’s “get off my lawn” level of distaste for the players entering the league. Check out what Russell told Serena Winters of Lakers’ Nation about his relationship with the new Laker coach.
“He’s one of the best people I know, as far as off the court,” Russell said of his new head coach on Wednesday. “We communicate on and off the court as much as possible. I feel like I can call him anytime. He’s not like a head coach that will sit back and just watch his other coaches and colleagues just train other players, he’s always involved.
“He’ll get out there and play with you if he wants. It’s just great to have a young coach like him in the building.”
Walton comes from being a hands-on assistant in Golden State and still has that approach. He wants to teach, he wants to be part of everything. He’s younger, he probably has Pokémon GO on his phone, and he is an open communicator.
The real test is how Russell feels about Walton the first time Walton disciplines him. It’s easy to be buddies before camp opens.
We don’t know how good Walton the coach will be, but he is someone connecting with the young Laker players. And that is a good start for a Laker team that has a few more years of development and building to get where they want to be.