If somehow you needed more proof that Luke Walton is a dead coach walking that the Lakers will let go at the end of the season — and seriously, how much more proof do you need? — we bring you this.
ESPN’s well-connected Ramona Shelburne was on the network’s NBA show “The Jump” and said that Magic Johnson and Luke Walton “have not spoken for weeks…
“That’s a problem.”
That’s an understatement.
Magic has tried to say the right things, but his actions have betrayed him — he is not a Luke Walton guy. Before the season, with all the roster changeover, Magic said the right thing about being patient with Walton and the team if they got off to a slow start. Then, when the Lakers started 2-5 Magic acted by ripping Walton in a meeting for the team’s play.
That’s how it’s been with the Lakers and Magic. The report earlier today that Magic is viewed as an “absentee” executive is in line with what sources told me before the season even started (and I have written about here and talked about in podcasts as part of the Lakers’ problems). I was told Magic “parachutes in” for a few days a couple of times a month, makes a lot of statements and edicts, then leaves to let others clean all of that up.
Magic and GM Rob Pelinka need to find a coach that both they like and can work with, and one LeBron James respects and accepts. That’s going to be a short list (Juwan Howard and Tyronn Lue both would seem to fit).
Last summer the Lakers landed LeBron, and while we can talk about all the things they did wrong after and around that, they still landed the best player on the market. This summer is the real test, they need to find another star — via free agency or trade — then fill the roster out with role players who can both play with LeBron and fit with the new coach’s system, whatever that is. There needs to be a cohesive vision, one executed top to bottom.
That’s how the top franchises handle their business. This iteration of the Lakers have yet to show they can do that.