In what could serve as a sign that he is considered the favorite in the Lakers’ coaching search, Byron Scott talked with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and vice president of player personnel Jim Buss in what marked his second interview regarding the vacant head-coaching position.
“It’s certainly not a bad thing,” said a league source familiar with Scott’s thinking.
The Lakers did not make any offer or provide any clarity in where they will take their coaching search. But Scott is believed to be the only candidate to have two interviews with the Lakers thus far.
The Lakers have also interviewed a slew of other candidates with head-coaching experience, including Kurt Rambis, Alvin Gentry, Lionel Hollins and Mike Dunleavy, though Dunleavy only met with Kupchak. The Lakers also had informal discussions with George Karl. The Lakers plan to have follow-up interviews with other candidates and possibly ones they have not spoken with yet.
It is considered only a 50-50 chance that the Lakers have a coach before the NBA Draft on June 26. The Lakers actually may not have a coach once free agency begins on July 1. That is because the Lakers’ one of several recruitment tools could entail telling free agents they could have input on their next coach.
In addition to spending 10 of his 14-year NBA career with the Lakers, Scott had head-coaching stints with the New Jersey Nets, New Orleans Hornets and Cleveland Cavaliers. He was fired last year after the Cavaliers lost 16 of their final 18 games to finish at 24-58, the third-worst record in the NBA. But Scott led the Nets to two NBA Finals appearances in 2002 and 2003 before losing to the Lakers and San Antonio Spurs in subsequent years and was also named the NBA’s Coach of the Year for guiding the Hornets into the playoffs for the 2007-08 season.
Scott, who served as an analyst last season for Time Warner Cable SportsNet, is considered close with Kobe Bryant after providing a mentor role for the Lakers’ star during his rookie season in the 1996-97 campaign. Scott would also be considered a popular choice among Lakers fans because of his familiarity with the franchise.
ESPN The Magazine first reported the development surrounding Scott’s interview.