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November 15, 2009
Great (Byron) Scott: Desire in Kings' job rooted in NO issues

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Nice time to revisit the Byron Scott storyline, huh?

I've got to admit it works out pretty well on this end. It's interesting stuff and a chance to elaborate and expand on his situation in New Orleans and how it related to the Kings over the summer. Meanwhile, the Kings are playing so well under Paul Westphal that you won't find many folks in town who wish they would've bought Scott out of his deal and brought him to Sacramento at the moment. This story was a tad more sensitive in the summer.

But make no mistake, as his agent of 24 years, Brian McInerney, made clear, Scott's interest was real. And the driving force was the fact that they knew long ago that Scott wouldn't be in New Orleans past this season. We wrote in the summer about how Scott had interest that was never reciprocated, but below is more background on what led to the chasm between Scott and the Hornets' ownership family (owner George Shinn, his brother-in-law/team president Hugh Weber and vice president/Shinn's son, Chad).

It had everything to do with the price at which the Hornets' success came. Specifically, it was the fact that his latest two-year extension ($5.5 million per season) came largely because he had a buyout for the 2008-09 season in his deal that they wish he never had, and bonuses totaling nearly $1 million in the season prior that - hypothetically - could have paid for just about all of the said buyout if he chose to walk. Can you say leverage, everyone? And resentment, too, perhaps.

Be sure to read the story first, as the below quotes are simply the ones not included in the piece in the paper...

MCINERNEY

"After the Coach of the Year season (2007-08) and the 56 wins, the Hornets wanted to negotiate a new contract. They offered four years, and he elected to take two because he was unsure of the direction the team was going to go - not only personnel wise but also geographically. This is a team that obviously by an act of God had relocated from New Orleans to Oklahoma then back down to New Orleans, and then there were discussions of how many tickets you had to sell to stay in New Orleans. Maybe they'd go to Kansas City, maybe they'd build a new practice facility, maybe they wouldn't. I think the feeling was the two years...contrary to what the rumor was, it was a coincidence that (Lakers coach) Phil Jackson's contract was up at the same time. That wasn't it. That was a coincidence. People like to talk about it, and that's really premature because I don't think Phil Jackson is ever retiring. This was a situation where there was a lot of internal confusion as to what the culture of the team was going to be.

On how they saw this coming a long time ago...

"This wasn't an unexpected situation...He was hamstrung - last season that's kind of the way it was. Last season they were so beat up at the end of the season but yet unable to spend any money. When you're reading you're supposed to contend for the Western Conference...but look at Mark Cuban and the (Dallas) Mavericks, the money Houston's got and obviously the money the Lakers have. And when you can't give Jannero Pargo a million dollars (without losing him to Chicago in free agency last summer), you get a little frustrated. I think we'll all get to watch with interest as (new Hornets coach and GM) Jeff Bower tries to take this group of guys - we all wish him well; I know Byron does - but it's going to be challenge. They're still trying to get under the luxury (tax). It isn't just a problem with the New Orleans franchise, but really the small franchises.
"You don't want it to wind up being like a Yankees situation where you're going to have a handful of healthy teams. Then you'll have other teams with good markets but they're just not going to have that kind of money. Obviously the change and what has happened in New Orleans was foreseeable, unless there was an infusion of money.

On what's next for Scott and the relationship with Shinn...

"As far as Byron, he's grateful...I'm flying out tomorrow to New Orleans - he's playing golf. ESPN already wants to know if he wants to do something...As far as Byron is concerned, I'm concerned, anybody who has been around this for a long time, there are personal issues and business issues and they're not the same. - he hopes that George Shinn and his prostate cancer is a whole different matter. If Pat Riley and Byron Scott can be out on a dance floor together last summer, everything is possible (laughs). He's too old to be upset. He's fine. I just think that the chemistry was really beginning to fade.

"I see us going to see that new movie 2012 in the next few days, because he's got nothing else to do. I see, like in all matters, taking a step back and watching how the season progresses for a lot of teams. Of course he wants to be a head coach. That goes without saying. And sometimes the team that is going to offer the best opportunity you're not going to see in November. " - Sam Amick



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