Reports: Scott Will Coach Nets

Tuesday, June 27th 2000, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Byron Scott, who helped the Los Angeles Lakers to three NBA championships, is the new coach of the New Jersey Nets, a source close to the team told The Associated Press.

The source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confirmed reports in The New York Times, the Indianapolis Star and the Newark Star-Ledger that Scott was the choice to coach the Nets.

Nets spokesman John Mertz wouldn't confirm the hiring but said the team planned a Tuesday afternoon news conference.

The announcement of the new coach will come one day before the NBA Draft, where the Nets have the No. 1 pick.

Scott, who was the shooting guard on NBA championship teams led by Kareem Abdul-Jaddar and Magic Johnson, has been an assistant coach the last two seasons with the Sacramento Kings and will now replace Don Casey, who was fired on April 26. Casey took the head coaching job when John Calipari was fired in March 1999.

Scott had been a leading candidate for the coaching job with the Indiana Pacers. But he met last week with new Nets president Rod Thorn and decided to come to New Jersey.

``I just heard it from someone else less than an hour ago,'' Indiana president Donnie Walsh told The Star-Ledger of Newark for Tuesday's editions. ``And I've had so many calls today, I can't remember who told me. But Byron hasn't called, nor has his agent.''

The Pacers' job was left vacant when Larry Bird followed through on a three-year pledge and retired following Indiana's six-game loss to the Lakers in the NBA Finals.

Scott, 39, played in the NBA from 1983-97 with the Lakers, the Pacers and the Vancouver Grizzlies. The former Arizona State guard, the fourth pick in the 1983 draft, spent two years as an assistant at Sacramento.

With stars such as Jayson Williams and Kerry Kittles sidelined with injuries, the Nets stumbled to a 2-15 start last season, then dropped their last 11 games en route to a 31-51 record.

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