The Los Angeles Lakers fired Byron Scott nearly two weeks ago, and since then their former head coach has been on a whirlwind media tour, doing several radio interviews as well as numerous TV appearances. The coach of the two worst Lakers teams in franchise history's latest comments came via an interview with Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News, where he admitted he would have handled his tenure differently had he known his job was in jeopardy, and not in the way most would assume.
"If I knew this was coming, I would have played Lou [Williams], Brandon [Bass] and guys like that a whole lot more," Scott told Medina. "They gave me the best chance to win."
Williams (-10,8) and Bass (-2.6) did have higher net ratings than that young Lakers' trio of Julius Randle (-15.4), Jordan Clarkson (-13.1), and D'Angelo Russell (-13), but it's still hard to buy Scott's argument that those three couldn't contribute to wins when digging a little deeper.
Of the 10 most frequently used Lakers' lineups this season, the only one with a positive net rating did feature two veteran players, Kobe Bryant and Bass. However, the other three players in that lineup with Bass as a small-ball five and Bryant at small forward were Russell, Randle, and Clarkson. Getting past those lineups it begins to become a wasteland of small sample size theater, but it's simply not factual to insinuate that playing the younger players made success impossible.
Were those players perfect? No, no one on the Lakers was, hence them setting a new low for worst record in franchise history. But how many more wins does Scott think he could have realistically coaxed out of the second worst team in the NBA had he played his mediocre veterans a few more minutes? And as Medina reports later in his piece, lack of wins aren't the primary reason the Lakers let Scott go anyway:
Yet, the Lakers became more concerned about Scott's ability both to relate and develop their younger players. So less than a week later, the Lakers hired Golden State assistant Luke Walton partly for those reasons.
So the Lakers reportedly moved away from Scott in large part because they were concerned with how he was getting through to and getting the most out of their young core, and his hindsight tells him that means he should have benched those players in favor of his veterans more? The logic there seems just a tad bit faulty.
Medina's whole piece is worth checking out for more insight into Scott's perspective on his final season with the Lakers, and he notably wishes the franchise and his replacement Luke Walton the best going forward.
It's been widely reported that the Lakers were able to not pick up Scott's third-year contract option because he didn't meet certain performance benchmarks in his contract, but it's highly unlikely he could have squeezed out enough wins to make it so the Lakers had to either keep him or fire him outright with guaranteed money had he just played Lou Williams and Brandon Bass just a little bit more, despite his assertions otherwise.
All stats per NBA.com. You can follow this author on Twitter at @hmfaigen.