(Reuters) - The Los Angeles Lakers fired coach Byron Scott on Sunday after he oversaw the two worst seasons in franchise history, clearing the way for a continued rebuild after the retirement of all-time great Kobe Bryant.
“We would like to thank Byron for his hard work, dedication and loyalty over the last two years, but have decided it is in the best interest of the organization to make a change at this time,” General Manager Mitch Kupchak said in a statement.
The search for a replacement will begin immediately with former player and now Golden State Warriors assistant Luke Walton regarded as top of the list of possible contenders.
Despite being the NBA’s second most successful franchise with 16 championships to their name, the Lakers are facing a sustained period of rebuilding after a dismal 17-65 campaign in the recently completed 2015-16 regular season.
Scott’s first season in charge was only marginally better, with the Lakers compiling a 21-61 record, their worst ever until this year.
Having not been near the playoffs since the Spurs swept them out of the opening round in 2012-13 and with Bryant retiring after his 60-point farewell performance earlier this month, the Lakers lack the star power they have generally commanded.
With a high-end celebrity laced fan base expecting results, continued futility was always going to put pressure on Scott to retain his job.
All-Star centers Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol departed the team for less money over the last few seasons, leaving early draft picks Julius Randle and D‘Angelo Russell carrying the burden as the future of the team.
Due to their woeful record, the Lakers have the second best odds of landing the top pick in the upcoming draft lottery and they are also expected to be very active in the free agency market.
Reporting by Ben Everill in Los Angeles; Editing by John O'Brien