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News » Contract status doesn't fluster Scott

Contract status doesn't fluster Scott

Contract status doesn't fluster ScottAn embarrassing 58-point home playoff loss to Denver last season didn't drive Hornets Coach Byron Scott to put up motivational signs in his office.

Scott -- entering his sixth, and possibly final, season with the Hornets -- said his inner fire is all he needs to motivate himself to take the Hornets to the upper echelon of the NBA after last season's disappointing first-round exit.

Scott, who has a 200-210 record with the Hornets , is tied with Boston's Doc Rivers as the fifth-highest paid coach in the league. He is set to earn $5.5 million this season.

With a growing number of teams trying to cut expenses because of the recession, some have decided to curtail costs of coaching and scouting staffs, thus limiting the probability of high-paying contracts.

Atlanta's Mike Woodson and New Jersey Nets Coach Lawrence Frank are in the final year of their contracts, and Denver Nuggets Coach George Karl -- coming off of a strong playoff run -- is waiting for an extension, although he has a year remaining on his deal.

"I don't give a damn about the contract situation; that doesn't fuel me," Scott said last week, a few days before the team's training camp begins Tuesday in Lafayette. "What fuels me is winning. . . . I'm still competing. I kind of love this situation. I'm not trying to sound cocky, but I know I'm good at what I do. I'm very confident in what I do as a Basketball coach, and I know I'm going to be coaching. I think guys scared of this type of pressure shouldn't be in the business, and I've been in it long enough as a player, so this is nothing new to me. When it's all said and done, I want to be here when David West and Chris Paul decide to retire."

The Hornets retooled their roster this summer, acquiring center Emeka Okafor in a trade with the Charlotte Bobcats for Tyson Chandler. They strengthened their bench by drafting rookie guards Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton, and adding free-agent forward Ike Diogu, forward Darius Songalia and guard Bobby Brown (the latter two obtained in a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves).

With those additional players, and Paul and West in their prime, Scott will be expected to make a deeper playoff run. Team officials said Scott will be evaluated over the course of the season.

In the history of the franchise, no Hornets coach has lasted longer than five seasons.

"We will continue holding each other accountable," Hornets President Hugh Weber said. "When you collaborate, everyone has to have a level of trust that you can be able to put your hand on and say, 'Are you going to be able to do this or that?' Byron certainly has an important part in this, and we're all excited to see how we execute our plans."

Even Scott's business manager, Brian McInerney, admits that all the chips are on the table this season. McInerney said it's the first time Scott has entered a season with the Hornets without at least an extra year remaining on his contract. McInerney negotiated Scott's extension in 2008 after he was selected the league's Coach of the Year, fresh off the Hornets' appearance in the Western Conference semifinals.

"He'll be available either on the open market or he'll be available for the Hornets ," McInerney said. "Either way, he's got to have a good year, and that's going to make him very focused. But the negotiation of any multiyear contract or a professional service of any kind at this point in a recession is better for both sides that discussions do not take place until absolutely necessary."

Some coaches in the final year of their contract have had problems with veterans tuning them out or voicing complaints to management. But several Hornets veterans said Scott has their ear, and they are motivated to make a deep playoff run.

Paul said he and Scott played several rounds of golf this summer and discussed their desire for a successful season.

"Knowing what kind of player he was and knowing what kind of coach he is, he's a competitor," Hornets shooting guard Morris Peterson said.

"I'm sure it's human nature that he's going to come in here driven," forward Sean Marks said. "He knows what he's doing."

Scott agreed to make changes to his staff after the playoff loss to the Nuggets. He hired former Hornets scout Rob Werdann to replace Kenny Gattison as coach of the team's big men, and former Hornets guard Robert Pack, a New Orleans native, was hired to work with the point guards.

Scott said he plans to have more five-on-five scrimmages to get his players better adjusted to game-like conditions. To better spread the ball around, Scott also may use a different offense for the second unit rather than the Princeton sets used by the starters.

"My personal challenge is continuing to challenge them," Scott said. "I'm switching up and bringing in some new things because players do tend to get bored if you keep doing the same thing. So I want it to be exciting to come to practice.

"It's going to be harder this season because the Western Conference is tougher. I thought San Antonio got better. The Lakers got better, and they are the world champions. But we've got the makings if everybody can come together. I'm asking them to come ready. I'm going to be more demanding because of the expectations."

. . . . . . .

John Reid can be reached at or at (504) 826-3407.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: September 28, 2009


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