The Los Angeles Lakers are having the worst season in the history of their franchise magnified not only by the by 48 point blowout to the Utah Jazz Monday night, but exemplified in the tattle tale D’Angelo Russell and Nick Young drama. A team’s lack of effort can’t be put all on the head coach, especially if the players are quitting on each other because of some in-house beef, but Byron Scott’s lack intervention proves yet again he’s not the man to rebuild the Lakers.
In a season overshadowed by Kobe Bryant’s farewell tour, not much attention has been paid to the development of the Lakers’ young stars and that’s also not Scott’s fault. However, his answer to Russell’s immaturity early on in the season was to bench him versus letting him grow up on the court. Then once word got out about the locker room issues the Lakers were facing, Scott’s response was to let the players handle it themselves. Now, I’m all for adults taking responsibility for their own actions and taking the initiative to address their issues without being babied, except when at least one of these adults was the number two overall pick in the draft, plays point and is the supposed future of your franchise.
Now locker room rift or not, it is the head coach’s job to get a team ready to compete every night. So a 48-point blowout to a non-contending basketball team is inexcusable and a lot of that blame has to rest on Scott’s shoulders. Granted with just a handle of games left in the season, the Jazz are fighting for life in the playoffs and trying to hold on to the 8th seed. They are only one game ahead of not getting into the playoffs at all, so they have plenty to play for. Meanwhile, everyone on the Lakers probably can’t wait for this season to end. But despite all this being true, to only get five points out of Russell and two points out of Julius Randle shows a lack of buy-in from players. If you then consider Russell’s comments that Scott’s benching solution did nothing for him, it’s clear there is definitely some disconnect between Scott and his rookie point guard.
If the Lakers want to get the most out of Russell and Randle too for that matter, they should make a coaching change this offseason. It would give the young players a fresh start post Kobe’s farewell. There is probably a better chance they will buy into a new system, and it’s not like they’d have much to unlearn with the way things have played out this year.
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