LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Three months after coach Mike D’Antoni resigned, the struggling Los Angeles Lakers are expected to offer former player Byron Scott the job, multiple media outlets reported on Friday.
According to ESPN and the Los Angeles Times, the Lakers have begun contract negotiations with Scott and are likely to reach an agreement within the next few days.
Scott, 53, was a three-time NBA champion with the Lakers during their triumphant ‘Showtime’ era in the 1980s and has worked as a head coach in the league for 13 years, most recently with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
He was fired by the Cavaliers on April 18, 2013 after compiling a record of 64-166 during his three seasons in charge, and has since worked as an analyst for the Lakers’ television broadcast partner, TWC SportsNet.
Scott, the NBA’s coach of the year in 2008 after his first winning season as head coach of the New Orleans Hornets, has been given a ringing endorsement by standout Lakers player Kobe Bryant, a five-time NBA champion.
The pair played together in Los Angeles during the 1996-97 season when Bryant made his debut in the league, and he described Scott as a “rookie mentor” who made him fetch donuts and run various other errands.
“We’ve had a tremendously close relationship over the years,” Bryant told reporters earlier this month. “Obviously I know him extremely well, he knows me extremely well and I’ve always been a fan of his.”
Scott, who coached the New Jersey Nets to consecutive NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003, fills the gap left by D’Antoni, who ended an unhappy two-season tenure when he resigned in late April.
D’Antoni still had a year to run on his $12 million, three-year contract but the team announced that he had decided to step down after compiling a 67-87 record.
The Lakers, who clinched their most recent NBA championship title in 2010, limped into the playoffs in D’Antoni’s first year but finished the 2013-14 season with a dismal 27-55 record, the worst 82-game return in team history.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Gene Cherry