Byron Scott has been under fire this season. The Los Angeles Lakers head coach is in his second year with the team, and the purple and gold are well on their way to another lottery appearance. After finishing second to last and 23rd in defensive and offensive efficiency, respectively, during the 2014-15 season, the Lakers now rank last and second to last in those categories in 2015-16.
The heat on Scott's seat has seemingly increased with each consecutive loss and/or press conference, and the Los Angeles Times reported last week that while he would be allowed to coach the rest of the season, the organization was already "torn" on whether or not to fire Scott this summer.
When speaking to Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt on their "A to Z Podcast" today, Lakers president Jeanie Buss did not give Scott a ringing endorsement when asked about all of the criticism he has received this season:
"I haven't had a conversation with Byron Scott (about the challenges of the Bryant dynamic)," Jeanie said. "I think I've talked to him maybe three times since he was hired. And I know he must be extremely busy with such a young group of players (but) I don't really know if that's how he feels about it. He hasn't expressed that to me but yet we really haven't had too many conversations where that would ever come up."
Part of this could be traced back to Buss not having to deal with Scott on a day-to-day basis due to her position being to mostly oversee the business side of the operations while her brother Jim and Mitch Kupchak deal with the basketball operations, something Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News explained when appearing on A.M. 570.
"I would say that that's more of a product of how the organization is structured where she oversees the business end, she doesn't oversee the basketball end and not that being any sign of her being upset with Byron," said Medina. "Not only in that, but in basketball operations in general, she has maintained a comfortable distance from that, I think to send the message that she's given them all of the space they need to do the job that they are hired to do, and she doesn't want to be seen as meddling."
Medina also mentioned "that even if the Lakers were contending for a championship this season, Jeanie wouldn't have much contact with Byron," something that Buss also intimated in her interview with USA Today:
"Now certainly when Phil was here (as Lakers coach), we were always talking because we were in relationship. Coaches before that like Pat Riley, and even Del Harris (who) I had a friendship with, he would stop by my office. I don't know if that's just the lay of the landscape. Being a head coach in the NBA is a very time-consuming job and so that might be something would be difficult for him to find the time, nor do I talk Xs and Os. Maybe there really wouldn't be anything I could offer him in terms of support (but) I am supportive of him and that if he did need something, I would make sure that our staff would provide it."
These comments on their face are not that large of an issue, most owners in the NBA probably do not have day-to-day conversations with their head coaches, but it speaks to the larger problem of the amount of public pressure the Lakers put on themselves with public statements like this. Like Jeanie continually reiterating that she will hold her brother to his self-imposed deadline to return the Lakers to contention, it's hard to see how this specific type of transparency helps the team as it tries to shake it's negative perception among top free agents.
All stats per NBA.com. Medina's quotes transcribed via A.M. 570. You can follow this author on Twitter at @hmfaigen.