Instead of bringing Byron Scott in for another interview, the Lakers finally decided to hire him for the head-coaching job. Now what? After various moves this month, the Lakers roster looks improved from last year—but is that saying much?
The Lakers won an abysmal twenty-seven games last season; only five other teams in the NBA did worse. Though Scott is a more attractive hire than Mike D’Antoni, what can we realistically expect him to do with this current roster?
Yes, Scott did an astonishing job when he was the head coach of the Nets, but he hasn’t coached a winning team in six years. Did the Lakers hire Scott because they truly believe he will be the next coach to help the Lakers compete for a championship? Or was he brought in because his history with the team and recent struggles as a coach has equipped him to weather the storm until the Lakers are able to sail into calmer waters? I really hope Scott is the long-term answer. However, we can’t ignore the fact that Scott hasn’t done anything monumental as a head coach in over a decade.
Then there’s Kobe Bryant. The Lakers have been spoiled when it comes to Bryant’s tenacity to stay on the court. Bryant has appeared to be almost immune to pain over his career. Pushing his body to resemble almost superhuman qualities over the years just goes to show how much he truly loves the game and strives to win. But these last few years have only reminded us that he is human: Bryant only played in six games all of last year and is coming off two major injuries. I never bet against The Mamba—his work ethic and high basketball IQ have shown he can adapt to any situation thrown his way—but that doesn’t mean his body will cooperate with him. Even if Bryant can stay healthy enough to be out on the court regularly (and I hope it does) who will help him? Even in his prime Bryant couldn’t do everything by himself.
Pau Gasol was brought in six years ago to help Bryant and he delivered big time with huge contributions to the back-to-back championships. Gasol has now moved on to Chicago and the Lakers haven’t found an adequate replacement. Carlos Boozer is a decent addition, but he is in no way on par to what Gasol was able to bring when he was first brought in. Jeremy Lin electrified New York a few years ago when Linsanity captivated The Big Apple, but the Knicks’ fans didn’t have much to cheer for when he first emerged onto the scene. Julius Randle is certainly something to be optimistic about, but he is only nineteen years old and we don’t really know how he will pan out until further down the road. In addition, who will play defense? Like last years team, this roster looks capable of scoring a lot of points. Like last years team, this roster looks incapable of stopping the opposition from scoring a lot of points.
I can’t fault the Lakers for trying to sign Carmelo Anthony this month. They did everything they could to entice him into moving out west, and it just didn’t work out. However, it is a bit disappointing that the Lakers waited on him while other viable free agents were being signed elsewhere. Players are the ones that should be waiting on the Lakers, not the other way around.
Some “experts” believe the Lakers are just going to bunker down and patiently bide time until Bryant’s immense contract is finally off the books, but can they really afford to wait that long? Lakers’ fans aren’t use to losing, and they are in no way willing to learn how to tolerate it.
I know there are a lot of Laker faithful that can’t wait for the season to begin, but what exactly are they going to get when it does? Will it even be worth the wait?