A 3-5 start later…
In a meeting on Tuesday following a winless two-game trip, Los Angeles Lakers president Magic Johnson admonished coach Luke Walton for the team’s sluggish start to the season, league sources told ESPN.
Johnson’s aggressive meeting tone circulated to individuals throughout the organization, including to principal owner Jeanie Buss, league sources said. Throughout his tenure with the Lakers, Johnson has earned an internal reputation for an often-time volatile management style, including with his handling of Walton and the coaching staff, sources said.
Perhaps, it wasn’t LeBron’s patience we should have been concerned with running out.
This doesn’t mean the Lakers will fire Walton. Maybe this is just Johnson’s leadership style. He has apparently displayed this volatility before, and he has never fired a coach.
But plenty of people around the league believed Johnson considered firing Walton last season. Remember, Johnson inherited, rather than hired, Walton. (That Buss had a hand in picking Walton complicates matter, though.)
Walton looked good coaching the Warriors, who had otherworldly talent. He also seemed to do fine coaching a bad Lakers team last season. It’d be abrupt to fire Walton now, but he doesn’t deserve a lifetime appointment to the job, either.
The Lakers’ biggest problem is roster construction around LeBron. There’s only so much Walton can do about having these mismatched veterans and young players still learning how to win.
As I wrote when Johnson made his preseason comments about Walton, it’s one thing to soberly assess the situation before the season. It’s another to back Walton while living daily through losing. The clear-headed analysis is probably more reliable. If Johnson truly meant what he said before the season, he should look back on those comments to anchor himself.
But Johnson sounds somewhat erratic. Walton might want to take care of business this weekend – at the Trail Blazers on Saturday, vs. the Raptors on Sunday. That’s a tough stretch, even if your boss weren’t breathing down your neck.