Byron Scott appears to be on the verge of becoming the next head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.
While Lakers officials insisted to USA TODAY Sports on Saturday evening that a deal had not yet been agreed on between Scott and the team, the former Lakers guard who has been a head coach for the New Jersey Nets, New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets and Cleveland Cavaliers told CBS Los Angeles' Jim Hill that the deal was done. The Lakers were known to have offered Scott the job in recent days, but the two sides were still negotiating.
"It feels fantastic," Scott said. "This is a dream come true. I always wanted to coach the Lakers, especially when I got to coaching. It's so unreal. I have to thank (Lakers general manager) Mitch (Kupchak), (Lakers president and governor) Jeanie (Buss) and (executive vice president of player personnel) Jim Buss to give me this opportunity.
"I really believe that they wanted to do the diligence and to make sure that I was the right guy…I know there were other candidates out there, and I felt like that with each meeting I thought was better and better, and I felt like they had a better understanding of what I was all about. I thought that the last few hires in their minds, they were a little hasty with, and so on this one, they took their time to make sure I was the right guy for this situation. Again, I think it worked out well for both sides."
The apparent hire comes nearly three months after the Lakers parted ways with Mike D'Antoni. Scott was considered the frontrunner since the early stages of the search, but the Lakers chose to handle the draft and free agency first before making an ultimate decision on their next coach. Yet while the likes of Lionel Hollins, George Karl, Mike Dunleavy, Kurt Rambis and others were considered, none had the combination of extensive head coaching experience and deep Lakers roots that they were clearly looking for like Scott.
Not only did he play 11 of his 14 seasons with the Lakers, but his final campaign was Kobe Bryant's first. The two connected in that 1996-97 campaign and their continued closeness was seen as a positive during this unwelcome time of rebuilding. Bryant is entering the first season of his two-year, $48.5 million extension that was agreed upon last season.