Byron Scott taps brakes on Showtime

By Jeff Caplan, NBA.com

VIDEO: Lakers introduce Scott

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – “Showtime” did, sort of, return to Los Angeles on Tuesday.

During the press conference to introduce former Lakers guard Byron Scott as the team’s 25th coach, old teammates Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jamaal Wilkes strolled into the Lakers’ practice gym to show their support. Johnson, a constant public critic of the last Lakers coach, Mike D’Antoni, nearly suffocated Scott with a massive, joy-filled hug.

Johnson declared this as “a great day for all the former Lakers as well as Lakers fans all over the world,” and then proclaimed the impossible: “Showtime’s back, baby!”

Scott, 53, flanked Magic in the Lakers’ backcourt for three of the Showtime Lakers’ four championship runs during the 1980s, plus three other Finals appearances through 1991. Scott, a native of Inglewood, Calif., home of the old Fabulous Forum and then the renamed Great Western Forum where those teams dazzled the senses, obviously has intimate knowledge of how those high-powered teams excelled.

Yet even Scott, who along with all Lakers fans can appreciate Magic’s exuberance for bringing a Laker Man back to the helm, had to tap the brakes on Magic’s “Showtime” giddiness here in the real world of 2014.

“We can’t play that way,” Scott said during his press conference. “We don’t have a Magic Johnson.”

Touché.

Remember, it was D’Antoni when hired five games into the 2012-13 season who embraced the faux return of Showtime, declaring his inherited edition would score 110 points a game or something ridiculous. Such bravado presumably came from either an attempt to capture angry Lakers fans enamored with Phil Jackson, or from his past successes running-and-gunning in Phoenix with two-time MVP Steve Nash, whom the Lakers had acquired that summer, only at a slightly more advanced age than he was in those heady Suns days.

Nash remains with the Lakers. He’s 40 now and has played 65 games in the last two seasons because of injuries, and just 15 last season. Kobe Bryant was a bushy-haired rookie during Scott’s final season. Scott returned to L.A. for the 1996-97 season for a final hurrah after playing a few seasons elsewhere a couple years after Magic’s initial stunning retirement.

The offense Kobe and Nash will run, Scott said on Tuesday, will be a mixture of everything he’s ever done at his previous stops with New Jersey, New Orleans and Cleveland, where he was the poor sap who took the gig just before LeBron James declared he was taking his talents to South Beach.

His greatest chore, Scott said, going full anti-D’Antoni (who truthfully had no shot last season with the unending injuries that ravaged the team), will be turning this group into a defensive-minded unit. Scott probably choked just a bit as he glanced at the Lakers’ stats last season. They finished 28th overall in defensive rating, giving up 107.9 points per 100 possessions.

“The main thing I have to do right away is establish ourselves as a defensive basketball team,” Scott said. “These three gentlemen [Magic, Kareem and Wilkes] that’s sitting in this front row, the first thing that Magic taught me when I got in this league is that we win championships by defending every single night. That’s the one thing we can control.”

Just prior to making that statement, Scott said he told general manager Mitch Kupchak that he assembled a roster that will be “very competitive.” Hopefully Scott remembered the Lakers are still in the Western Conference. Anyway, there’s nothing like new-coach optimism.

On the bright side, the Lakers were so awful last season that it figures to be next-to-impossible to be as bad. The Lakers lost a franchise-record 55 games. Kobe played in six. He’ll be back. We know he’ll be paid a handsome $23.5 million next season, but we don’t know at what level he’ll perform or how he’ll adapt his game to his changing athleticism and physical capabilities following the torn Achilles tendon of two seasons ago and last season’s knee injury. Or how his patience will stand up to a mediocre team and a new coach, even one this time he personally endorsed.

Nash, as mentioned, is back, too, but how long he can play or how effectively is a total mystery.

Pau Gasol is out. Vetaran power forward Carlos Boozer is in.

The rest of Scott’s team looks like this: No. 7 overall pick Julius Randle, then Jordan Hill, Jeremy Lin, Nick Young, Ryan Kelly, Ed Davis and Robert Sacre.

Showtime? The straight-faced Scott was right to tap the brakes.

Give him credit for that, and now give him time to implement a system and gain some cohesion, and time for trusted management to work some magic in the coming summers that missed the mark with available superstars this time around.

Only then will we know if Magic can truly crow that Showtime’s back, baby.

31 Comments

  1. "smart NBA fan" says:

    someone here named michael said Kobe cant handle an 82 game season. look at his work ethic and his will to win. the last 2 season he was injured and didnt play much. i can bet you he will be well rested and ready to go thru the 82 games again. stronger faster and better than ever. you know if you talk he will just shut you up. i wonder who his poor victim is going to be that he strikes. kobe always dunks on someone hard when reporters and idiotic sports people say hes done for. dont you people know the drill by now? Kobe cant be stopped so just shut your mouth already. im tired of hearing hes done when hes clearly not even close to finished Kobe is still the best and he himself being on the court makes a threat for any team in the NBA bar none.

  2. Kobe-Nash-Boozer-Young-Hill says:

    Not bad.. But LA should still look for a free agent.. Can they get Eric Bledsoe?? Playoff is hard to reach but not unreachable.. GO LA!! I support you all the way!!

  3. "smart NBA fan" says:

    okay 1st off we got nash experienced point guard a leader along with Kobe and for the bench you got young lin replacing nash and nick young replacing Kobe giving both them leaders a rest while there backups can score some. we all know linsanity can score and last season nick young was scorng almost every game. throw in power fowards carlos boozer proven in chicago and rookie julius randle add ed davis off the bench and you got sacre and jordan hill sharing the center position. ed davis can play power foward or slide over to the 5 spot. now shooting guard and small foward you got kobe nick young xavier henry wesley johnson marshon brooks. the only guy lakers should have kept is kendall marshall i really liked him as a PG could have a great off the bench backup for Nash and Lin. Completing the list Lakers should try to get Beasley lamar odom metta world peace trevor ariza and shannon brown all former lakers. ariza and mwp have great defense and can hands down guard almost any player.

  4. kobefanjay says:

    the lakers have Kobe Bryant. why would anyone think he’s not gonna come back and prove everyone wrong and write a new chapter in his legacy…one of those big guys is going to have a breakout season …there is a lot of rebounding there and guards that can put up 3’s (see 4th all time leading scorer) they will be able to run pick and roll as well as triangle sets with nash or kobe…i do agree get beasley on a 1 or 2 year and see what he can do. Don’t be surprised if there is something bigger in the works…if randle outplays the other rookies then he could be the target in a kevin love trade as well…

  5. squala96 says:

    Quite clearly, Kupchack doesn’t know what he’s doing. He’d rather re-sign iffy players like Henry and Johnson than make an effort to get Beasley. Michael is a true talent, unlike Xavier who’s only good in 30-40% of the games and Wes whom I can’t see any real potential even with a good coach. You can make bad boys good, but not turn average players into superstars.

  6. what the Bull(s) says:

    we all know Nash is not going to last more than two weeks.

    get mike beasley & Shannon brown, Metta World Peace

  7. what the Bull(s) says:

    we all know Nash is not going to last more than two weeks.

    get mike beasley

  8. Phil Jackson 11 Rounds says:

    1. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers

    [+] Enlarge
    Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesTBD

    Thanks to an absolutely tireless work ethic, Bryant is the most skilled player in the league with virtually every weapon at his disposal. His turnaround jump shot is the best , and his footwork is unmatched by any active player. His will to win and focus are unparalleled, making him the single most intense competitor in the game.

    • Phil Jackson 11 Rounds says:

      STEVE NASH WITH ALL DUE RESPECT PLEASE RETIRE AND GIVE A YOUNG PLPAYER A CHANSE TO EXPLORE HIS TALENT”TAHNK YOU

  9. Max says:

    Cannot wait to see Bryon Scott’s system in Lakeland!!~~ Another season will bite the dust for the Lakers!!~~

  10. jodyfukswitmacdre says:

    Lakers are an absolute mess. Playoffs? Playoffs? lol they are barely in rebuild mode cause they always try to buy there way out but no one wants to play for Jim or with Kobe except NBA rejects like boozer lin swag and 40yr old Nash. lol its rough but you could be the clippers who no matter how good they are can’t shake the curse of being the clippers.

  11. J-Short37 says:

    I think this team is part of the rebuilding process, meaning us making a 8-7 seed is rebuilding at this point. I think Scott is a solid hire for the team we have now and possibly going forward. He has proven that he can coach sub 500 and over 500 types of teams. And Mitch looks like he is making the right moves freeing up space for next summer. It would be nice if we could work out a deal that would allow Nash contract to come off the books, but in his position I would not give up 9 Million bucs either.

  12. sekhon says:

    Now lakers have a mix squad of young blood and experirnce,.,.,with a coach with robust record.,.they can make for playoffs,.,i am not a typical lakers fan but after reviewing all things we can say this,.,.good luck lakers…

  13. michael says:

    Scott is a good hire but this whole notion of Steve Nash being able to play ( he couldn’t even make it through practices last year – the guy wraps himself in towels not only on game days). Bryant and Boozer? This isn’t 2008 when they were on the Olympic squad. The key is developing our young kids: Randle, Clarkson, Kelly, Henry etc. Hopefully management won’t give Bryant another extension (on the books that is).We need to ready ourselves for the post Kobe era, which with advancing age and loss of speed, may be thrust upon us next season. How many games will Kobe play? It really doesn’t matter in the big scheme at all. Kobe and Nash could be great player coaches in practice but neither can endure the 82 games 20 back to back grind of a full NBA season.

  14. pat oslon says:

    Finally some excitement & renewed expectations during the rebuilding process. it’s going to be tough but, fortunately, the best is yet to come. It’ll be fun watching the team grow. Haters better enjoy it while they can because as Arnold S. once said “I’ll be back!”

  15. thespectator says:

    lakers aint makin the playoffs, cmon we all know how stacked the west is..and if they did its a first round exit, its gonna be a very very very long time before the lakers win a title…it was good while it lasted.

  16. eX says:

    Lakers what?..been a while since i watched D-league

  17. J4CK Nicholson says:

    It’s too early to tell, honestly. They can be competitive (especially in the West) if:

    – They can pull a trade for a legit all star
    – If Scott will be true to his words
    – If Kobe can stay healthy and amnesty Nash

    My projected starting lineup:

    C – Hill
    PF – Randle
    SF – Johnson or Young
    SG – Kobe
    PG – Lin or Clarkson

    Not quite a strong lineup but who knows might pull a miracle and/or surprise?

  18. justsayin says:

    They dont seem to have any natural small forwards – might have to shift Kobe to the 3. Wouldnt want to play Young major min there he doesnt have the size. Really seems to be their only two wing players. Maybe they spring for Marion? At least he defends.

    • justsayin says:

      Oh they didn’t list X Henry or W Johnson – no wonder the list of swingmen seemed thin.

  19. Gillsy says:

    I think it will be a long year for the Lakers in a deep west. However, going forward Lin needs more court time and Randle will get time which can accelerate his start into the pros.

  20. if byron could make this team work as an actual team then they could have a chance

  21. FERNIE.O says:

    With Nash,Boozer and Young coming off the bench. Then a healthy Kobe getting everyone involved.. The Lakers will make the playoffs 6 or 7 atleast… Laker Nation Uprising….

  22. bballjunkie1 says:

    Seems like yesterday Byron replaced Stormin Norman Nixon in the showtime act. Hes done us all proud as player and coaching stints hopefully he has some success with the mess created by Jimmy Buss. If anybody can he can good luck with that.

  23. TheKush says:

    Congrats to Byron Scott I was just surprised with the length of his contract!

  24. NBAfan says:

    It’s a long shot, but the Lakers can be competitive this year. It’s not your star-studed “Heatles”, and it’s not your consistent “Spurs”, but the ingredients are there…potentially.

    Lin and Boozer needs to produce consistently and not just some games here and there.
    Randle will have his chance, so he just needs to work hard, hustle, do the dirty work, and he can be a legit ROY contender.
    Swaggy P needs to provide that offensive spark, be it off the bench or as a starter.

    The Lakers organization needs Kobe now more than ever to be less “Black Mamba”, and more “the Captain”. I’m a HUGE fan, but father time and injuries have caught up to you, and although I know you can still produce, save those explosions for when it really counts…hopefully in the playoffs. I think 20 pts, 6 ast and 4 reb a game but with all the intangibles of being the TYPE of leader nobody thinks you can be would really add to your legacy rather than 25 pts.

  25. Lakers Slowtime says:

    should be the new catch cry for the current unit. If they get between 35-40 wins, it’s an over achievement. If they top 40 wins… it’s a miracle.

  26. harrythehawk says:

    Steve Nash is a liability. Why is he still a Faker?

    • jimmy says:

      I have never understood the faker for laker term. It just sounds like a 6 yr old trying to be eminem.

      • harrythehawk says:

        I concur about Nash running out of gas early in the season. I’m gonna be nicer and say by Christmas time. He’s a Faker, what more do you want?