The question made Lakers coach Byron Scott feel uncomfortable.
Surprisingly, the subject did not involve the Lakers’ 21-61 record in the 2014-15 season in what marked the worst mark in the franchise’s 67-year-old history or the uncertainty surrounding the team’s rebuilding. Instead, Scott remained unsure if he would accept the Lakers’ invitation to become the team’s draft lottery representative in New York City on May 19.
“They asked me to go,” Scott said, “so I don’t know if I want to go now.”
Scott then joked the Lakers should send team spokesman John Black on the trip. After his exit interview on Thursday, Scott clarified that he was serious he had not made up his mind. Yet, he maintained the uncertainty had nothing to do with any uncomfortable feeling he might have that national television will capture should the Lakers fall out of the top five. That scenario would force the Lakers to trade their pick as part of the Steve Nash deal.
“You guys know me,’ Scott said. “Glass is half full.”
The Lakers sent Scott’s former Showtime teammate James Worthy to last year’s draft lottery, aware of the symbolism that he represented the Lakers’ last No. 1 pick in 1982. Although the Lakers landed that draft pick because of a trade, the move still helped the Lakers win three NBA championships in the Showtime Era.
Worthy attended last year’s lottery and brought with him bobbleheads featuring iconic figures of the Lakers, including their late owner (Jerry Buss) and the late famed announcer (Chick Hearn). Though they symbolized a period when the Lakers won the majority of their 16 NBA championships, the Lakers landed with only the seventh overall pick. They used that to select Kentucky forward Julius Randle, who played only one regular-season game before suffering a season-ending injury to his right leg.
Although they remain encouraged with Randle’s recovery and potential, the Lakers hope for better fortunes this year in both draft order and health. If Scott becomes the representative, he said he may bring his grandaughter to help boost the Lakers’ odds. But after coaching the Cleveland Cavaliers when they landed the No. 1 pick in 2011 for Kyrie Irving, Scott joked the Lakers should send the son of Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert. He became the franchise’s good-luck charm after landing three No. 1 picks in the past four years.
Regardless of his participation, Scott saw the Lakers’ order in NBA draft lottery as the biggest factor that could help the Lakers’ rebuilding process.
“That’s the top,” Scott said. “That’s the next available date where we find out what pick we’re gonna have, then obviously we’ll know where we’re picking in the later part of the first round then we know what we have in the second round. That’s the only thing that’s on the agenda right now.”
But after cementing two wins each against Minnesota (16-66) and Philadelphia (18-64), does Scott feel nervous that might result in the lottery ping pong balls not bouncing in the Lakers’ favor?
“No,” Scott said. “None.”