Byron Scott: ‘I just felt in my heart and in my mind’ that Lakers would end up with one of top two picks


NEW YORK — Byron Scott already went through a season where he was the figurehead responsible for guiding the Lakers to their worst year in franchise history. The last thing he wanted to add to his résumé was to represent the team during a Draft Lottery where the franchise’s pick was ultimately lost.

But Scott wasn’t concerned about any of that.

Once it was all over, and it was revealed that the Lakers would not only get to keep their pick, but moved up from the five spot all the way to No. 2, Scott revealed that he had a feeling all along that this was how things would turn out.

“To be honest with you, even coming here I said, we’re going to get the first or second pick,” Scott said afterward. “I felt real good about it. And obviously when we weren’t called third, everything kind of came to fruition.”

Before the announcement of the third pick would matter to the Lakers, they had to make it past the revealing of the seventh and sixth envelopes to see if they would even have a pick at all. If it fell out of the top five, it would go to the Sixers.

“Once that passed, OK, at least we get a chance to keep our pick,” Scott said, describing his brief feeling of relief. “But I really didn’t think about that. I really was thinking about the first or second pick. I really felt that’s what we were going to get this year. I had too many people come to me in Los Angeles and tell me that we were going to get the second pick. So I have to go back to my gym in L.A., which is Equinox (in Santa Monica) and tell all of ‘em that, you guys were right.’”

“I just felt in my heart and in my mind that we were going to get one or two,” he said.

Setting Scott’s clairvoyant claim aside, this was a big night for the Lakers. The team is desperate to rebuild with talent that can be cornerstones for years to come, and most expect that to be the case with either Karl-Anthony Towns or Jahlil Okafor being available to them in the second spot. Scott, however, wouldn’t discuss players the team might consider specifically.

“Really? You’re really going to ask me that question,” Scott said with a laugh, when asked who he likes at two. “There are a lot of good players. I’m just happy we got the second pick, and we’ve got numbers 27 and 34 as well so we’re looking forward to a great draft.”

Scott also looks forward to Kobe Bryant, entering what is presumed to be his final NBA season, being around to mentor that special player who is chosen.

“Whoever we bring in, obviously these three picks, they’re going to have to hear from [Kobe] on a day-to-day basis, because he’s going to be in their ear,” Scott said. “And they should want to learn from him. He’s one of the greatest players to ever play this game. There’s no better guy to have on a team to teach some of these young guys what this league is all about, and what type of work ethic they’ll have to have to hopefully even get to somewhere near his level.”

Perhaps Scott’s psychic powers can work once more, and help Mitch Kupchak determine which player will in fact be the one to transition the Lakers into their next era of greatness. Until then, he’s content in knowing that he was able to be the one sitting there, representing the franchise when a rare piece of positive news was finally announced.

“You guys know how much pride I have in the organization, so this was a big deal to me,”Scott said. “To be able to come here and secure the second pick, I guess I can go back home and say, “Damn, I’m sorry I didn’t get the first pick for you guys. But No. 2 ain’t bad.”