CLEVELAND – After shootaround Wednesday, Los Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott once again discussed his relationship with rookie point guard D'Angelo Russell, a hot-button issue throughout the season, as Scott has continually criticized the 2015 No. 2 draft pick with backhanded remarks on a near-daily basis.
“I haven't been the easiest man on him in the world,” Scott said hours before his Lakers fell to the Cleveland Cavaliers 120-111 at Quicken Loans Arena. “But I always seem to go back to thinking -- after I've been so hard on him on certain occasions -- that he's 19 years old, and he's just a kid playing in a man's world. I know the potential is there. He's just got to keep working at it. I'm going to stay on him because I think he has a chance to be a very good basketball player.”
Later Wednesday, Scott further critiqued Russell by saying the former Ohio State standout is not as mature as other top-flight rookie point guards Scott coached, such as Kyrie Irving in Cleveland and Chris Paul in New Orleans.
“[Irving] was just a little bit more mature,” Scott said. “At 19, he was a little bit more businesslike at practice and games. D’Angelo still has a playfulness about him. Sometimes in practice he’s joking around and losing a little bit of focus. But he’s 19. I understand that. Chris Paul was probably like 23 years old by the time he came into the league in his mental capacity. But like I said, each point guard, each guy I have, is different.”
Scott was then asked if he meant Russell’s “playfulness” was a negative trait.
“I didn’t say it was a bad thing, but it is a bad thing at times,” Scott said. “There’s always a time to be serious, and there’s always a time to joke around. So I’m not saying it’s a bad thing -- I’m saying he’s 19. I understand it. I’m not saying it’s bad or good, but Chris Paul wasn’t like that, and Kyrie was a little bit, but not that much. But like I said, again, they’re all different, and I accept that.”
Scott reiterated that Russell isn't as developed as Irving at that age.
“Kyrie was a lot farther along,” Scott said. “Kyrie, offensively, there was no weaknesses, and I haven’t seen that in a 19-year-old since. And he’s probably the first. He was more prepared from an offensive standpoint than Chris Paul was his rookie year, and I think I said that as well. Kyrie was just so much more advanced -- on the defensive end was a different story -- but offensively, he’s just gifted. Very mature, very smart, so it was a lot easier. This is a totally different situation.
"Each point guard that I’ve had is a totally different situation. D’Angelo is in a situation that is totally different from Kyrie and Chris Paul and Jason Kidd and other guys I’ve had. I treat them according to what they bring to the table. Like I said with D’Angelo, I know he’s going to get there.”