Gary Payton joining the Los Angeles Lakers as an assistant coach sounds like a good thing, and if we are speaking solely of the team’s best interest, then it is. Yet, if we are talking about Byron Scott as the head coach and his best interests, then it’s a different story.
Payton is a Hall-of-Famer and has the smarts to be a great NBA head coach, but doesn’t Scott wonder if Payton is there to assist or replace him?
Let’s face the facts. The Lakers aren’t going to be good this year, and unless they find a way to acquire a star before next season, they won’t be good then either. Their best player is an aging Kobe Bryant, who after two serious injuries is a shell of his former self. When healthy, he is still one of the better players in the game, but he can no longer carry a team on his back. He needs help and it’s not coming anytime soon.
Scott is a good coach but if the Lakers thought he so key to the future of their franchise, he would have been hired long ago. Instead, the team has drug out the coaching decision because at the end of the day, the 2014-15 Lakers are not a championship caliber team and there is no way they will become one.
So, in the end, why does it matter? At least that’s the vibe I’ve been getting from Laker land.
Now comes the rumor that Payton could join the team as an assistant. It would be a solid move because experience is the one-thing the 11-time All-Star lacks. Therefore, Scott can tutor him and, after two mediocre seasons, he can be shown the door, making way for Payton to take over with a fresh start and some tutelage from one of the most experienced coaches in basketball.
If the opposite happens, and Scott somehow turns the Lakers into title contenders, then its a win-win. The Lakers turned their franchise around and still have a talented, big-name assistant on their coaching staff, while Payton still gets the experience he needs. Really, the only one that can lose here is Scott.