Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott is alienating his young players and is on the verge of losing their allegiance, according to ESPN.
After a humiliating loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, Byron Scott stated that his players were intimidated with the thought of playing against dominating stars in Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, the top point guard and small forward combination in the NBA.
D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle, two of the young players that will be the foundation of the Los Angeles Lakers, along with Jordan Clarkson, once Kobe Bryant retires at the end of the season, did not appreciate the comments, which insinuates that Byron Scott was talking directly about them.
Both players flat out stated that they were not playing scared against Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. They felt that the loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder was because the other team executed better during the game.
Byron Scott has not seen eye to eye with D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle all season long, as the Los Angeles Lakers head coach feels that his two young players have not lived up to the expectations that he set for them when the season started.
Earlier in the month, Byron Scott made a dramatic change to the Los Angeles Lakers starting lineup when he replaced D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle with veteran scoring guard Lou Williams and rookie forward Larry Nance Jr.
D’Angelo Russell suffered even more humiliation when he temporarily regained his starting spot after Jordan Clarkson suffered an injury, only to lose it right back despite putting up impressive numbers. Russell felt that he earned his spot back.
Byron Scott was not pleased with the way that D’Angelo Russell was playing within his offensive system. He felt that his point guard needs to do a better job of getting other players involved. Scott tried playing Russell off the ball, but he was not pleased with those results either.
In regards to Julius Randle being benched, Byron Scott was not happy with the way that the former Kentucky Wildcats star was playing defense off the ball. Scott wants the 6’9″ forward to do a better job of communicating on defense and rotating when teammates need his help.
Another source of discontent between the head coach and the players is the fact that Byron Scott is so harsh on D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle for mistakes that they make, while giving completely free reign to Kobe Bryant, even when he is playing poorly and shooting the team out of games.
While it is true that Kobe Bryant has earned a lot more freedom than D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle, two players that have yet to play 82 games in the NBA, Byron Scott does seem extremely unfair at times. Young players don’t always react well when they feel that they are being singled out.
Byron Scott is admittedly bad at developing young players, so his relationship with D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle might convince Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak that a different head coach will be needed to guide the team once the Kobe Bryant era is over.
A younger coach like Monty Williams, who played in the NBA four years with the San Antonio Spurs, might be a better fit fit D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle because the players might relate to him better than a disciplinarian like Byron Scott.
For the Los Angeles Lakers to get back towards the top of the NBA standings, D’Angelo Russell, impending free agent Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle need to be allowed to learn through their mistakes on the court. That’s how players become stars.
[Featured Photo by Harry How/Getty Images]