LeBron James: Luke Walton ‘played the hand as well as he could’

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Los Angeles Lakers owner Jeanie Buss says she will defer to Magic Johnson on the future of Lakers head coach Luke Walton. Meanwhile it’s been no secret that LeBron James apparently wants Walton out, and there have been rumors of several other candidates including Ty Lue and Jason Kidd to replace him.

We already know that the Lakers are not a playoff team, and so LeBron’s first season in Los Angeles is about to officially come to a close. As such, it seems that James is starting to try a bit of a PR reclamation when it comes to Walton.

James sat down for a nearly 11-minute interview with Allie Clifton over at Spectrum Sportsnet, and when it came to Walton, James said that he felt as though the young coach had responded as best he could have given the Lakers’ circumstances.

Via Spectrum Sportsnet and Silver Screen and Roll:

“I mean, as good as you could. As good as you can. No one expects for a suspension to happen on opening night (Rondo and Ingram in the home opener). No one expects for injuries to happen the way they did with our franchise this year. Where your starting point guard is out for numerous games. Your starting small forward is out. Your starting two-guard, B.I., is out. Josh is hurt. Rondo is hurt. I’m not talking two or three games here, everyone is back in the lineup. We’re talking like 15, 20, 25 games. I saw something the other day where myself, B.I., Zo and Kuz only played 23 games together this year. 15-8. We had a defensive rating of fourth in the NBA, and we were like seventh in offense when we played together over 23 games. As good as that is, it’s not enough for Luke to even know what he has on a consistent basis, when you don’t have a consistent roster every night during the season. Like you said, control what you can control and you’ve got to play the hand you’re dealt, and I think he played the hand as well as he could.”

Where there is smoke there is usually fire, and it seems like Walton has been creeping toward coaching his last game for the Lakers. All rumors about James not wanting Walton in Los Angeles needed to be balanced by something, so James coming out and giving him some credit is at least something.

I’m not sure this is anything more than LeBron wanting to soften the view of his opinion of Walton on the pages of history, but here we are.