The Los Angeles Lakers decided to part ways with head coach Byron Scott after two years on Sunday night. While the decision took longer than most expected, it was still a widely foreseen conclusion to Scott's time in Los Angeles.
The former "Showtime" Laker and Los Angeles native coached the purple and gold to the two worst records in the history of the franchise during his two seasons at the helm, while additionally failing to improve the team's defense after a public proclamation to do so upon his hiring.
But just because Scott's firing was the outcome most on the outside predicted, that doesn't mean all of his former players saw it coming. Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News spoke with one (anonymous) member of last year's Lakers team, and the unnamed player told him that several members of the team thought Scott was safe as coach heading into the 2016-17 NBA season:
Some initial surprise. One player told me he & other teammates thought Byron was staying after watching Mitch's press conference last week.— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) April 25, 2016
Others were caught less off-guard:
Another Lakers player who wishes to stay anonymous on Byron's dismissal: "Not shocked honestly, but I think a fresh start could be good"— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) April 25, 2016
The player Bill Oram of the O.C. Register spoke with thought the same:
One Lakers player texted and said he "kinda saw the writing on wall" that Byron Scott was done. Must have Twitter.— Bill Oram (@billoram) April 25, 2016
Rookie forward Larry Nance, Jr. went on the record about the only coach he's ever known:
Just spoke with Larry Nance Jr., who said he was a "big fan" of Byron Scott & thanked him for the opportunities he received this year— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) April 25, 2016
Larry Nance Jr. called criticism Scott received "not fair" regarding record & handling young players. Nance: "This was an impossible job"— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) April 25, 2016
To be totally fair to Scott, Nance, Jr. did develop quite well under the much-maligned head coach and was given plenty of opportunities to grow and succeed last season. Scott had different relationships with different players, like anyone does with people they work with, which explains the differing reactions to his dismissal.
The good news for the Lakers and their fans is that Scott does not appear to have been so beloved by his players that it will sow any seeds of dissent for the Lakers next coach. With Scott's firing, the search for that coach has begun
You can follow this author on Twitter at @hmfaigen.