Byron Scott began his NBA coaching career in 1998 when he began the first of two seasons as an assistant with the Sacramento Kings. He specialized in teaching perimeter shooting during his tenure with the Kings and helped to lead the team to an excellent three-point shooting percentage during a pair of playoff seasons. In 2000, Scott took over a struggling New Jersey Nets team. His team performed poorly in his first year, but that changed in the 2001–02 season with the arrival of Jason Kidd as the Nets raced to a franchise record of 52 wins. In the process, they won their first Atlantic Division crown and appeared in their first NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers. Despite losing the championship series to LA, Scott came back to coach the team through another successful season during the 2002–03 campaign, once again taking the team to the NBA Finals but losing once again—this time to the San Antonio Spurs.
Scott became the head coach of the New Orleans Hornets in 2004. Chris Paul was drafted by the team in 2005 and was named Rookie of the Year. In the 2005–06 and 2006–07 seasons, he guided the team to a pair of sub .500 seasons. One obstacle was that the team played most of its home games in Oklahoma City due to Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of New Orleans. In the 2007–08 season, Scott had his first winning season as the Hornets head coach. They had a winning percentage of .683 with a record of 56–26. They became Southwest Division champions and finished 2nd overall in the Western Conference. Scott was named the head coach of the 2008 Western Conference All-Star team, and a few months after, he was awarded the 2007–2008 NBA coach of the year award.
On July 2, 2010, Scott was named head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, a few days before the team lost star LeBron James to the Miami Heat. During Scott’s first season at the helm of the Cavs, he watched his team endure a 26-game losing streak, which was then the longest such streak in NBA history. Scott was reunited with Baron Davis (whom he coached with the Hornets) when a midseason trade brought Davis to Cleveland, and helped the Cavaliers close the season with several victories, including a 102–90 upset victory over LeBron James and the Miami Heat, which ensured that Cleveland did not have the worst record in the league at the season’s end. Cleveland used their first overall pick to draft Kyrie Irving, who became the second point guard Scott coached to the Rookie of the Year award. His second season in Cleveland saw them show some improvement in a shortened 66-game schedule.
Scott spent the 2013–14 season as a Lakers television analyst on Time Warner Cable SportsNet. After the season, he was the frontrunner to become the new Lakers head coach. Scott interviewed three times for the position, which had become vacant after Mike D’Antoni’s resignation. On July 28, 2014, he signed a multi-year contract to coach the Lakers.