PORTLAND, Ore. — The Lakers have not even completed a month of the 2015-16 season, but both an uncomfortable and familiar question has already emerged.
With the Lakers (2-12) entering Saturday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers (6-10) at Moda Center with the NBA’s second-worst record, how much effort will the franchise put in retaining its top-3 protected draft pick?
“I don’t think about that whatsoever,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said following Saturday’s morning shootaround. “I probably won’t until April. That’s something I can’t control and that’s at the end of the season.”
The Lakers are in a precarious position. They appear likely bad enough to lose a lot of games. But will they be bad enough to land in the top three? Otherwise, the Lakers owe Philadelphia their first-round pick as part of the Steve Nash trade. The Lakers finished last season with the NBA’s fourth-worst record, but moved up two slots for the No. 2 pick. The Lakers eventually chose point guard D’Angelo Russell with that pick.
“It’s impossible to think about the team, try to get our young guys better, the team better and also thinking about a pick,” Scott said. “That’s six months away and you might not even get it. I don’t concern myself with things that aren’t in my control.”
Scott can control the Lakers’ fortunes to some degree with how he manages his roster and system. But Scott has relied heavy on Kobe Bryant and has only gradually granted Russell more minutes amid his hope to maximize victories. It hasn’t worked yet, as the Lakers currently rank 29th out of 30 NBA teams in offensive efficiency and 28th in defensive efficiency.
Yet, Scott insisted he has not paid attention to the negative fan reaction, even on his Instagram account.
“I block it out,” Scott said. “When you start listening to the fans, you’ll start sitting with them next. I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to fans.”
“They’re not at practice everyday,” Scott said. “They don’t know the preparation and what goes into it. They just see the end product. They have no idea. They have all their opinions. But I don’t put a lot of stock into it. That’s why I don’t go on my Instagram.”
The record shows that Scott has interacted with some fans on his Instragram account. But Scott has said an unnamed family member both handles and monitors his account.
“I tell her not to respond back to anybody,” Scott said. “She’s family so she takes it personal. I know me. I take it personal and might say something back.”
That explains why Scott stopped reading newspapers in the second-season of his 14-year NBA career, 11 of which were with the Lakers. Scott credited learning that concept from former Princeton coach Pete Carril. But Scott admitted former Lakers coach Pat Riley and unnamed teammates alerted him about what was written. Hence, Scott sounded aware of the fan sentiment.
“Pissed off and hot,” Scott said. “There’s some that are supportive that say, ‘We know it’s a process and it’s going to take a few years.’ This is L.A. They want to win right away.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org