The Los Angeles Lakers’ future with Luke Walton came under fire after a quote from LaVar Ball went around the world and hit the Internet. Magic Johnson and Jeanie Buss have both since come out in support of Walton, and general manager Rob Pelinka delved even deeper into the front office’s thoughts on Coach Luke.
“Luke’s done a tremendous job. We fully support him. Magic, myself, Jeanie. At the same time all of us, me as a GM, Magic as a team president, Luke as a coach, we all want to become better. Every day we want to get better. The great players in the game, Lakers like Magic and Kobe, they would challenge themselves every offseason. How do I return as a better version of myself?
“Luke pushes us to be better in the front office, we push him to be better as a coach. We’re all judged by whether or not we can get that trophy, and we’re judged by the wins and losses, and we all want to stay together and continue to get better as a group,” Pelinka said during his 20-minute Connected With... Spectrum SportsNet interview.
Pelinka is explaining the principles behind how the front office operates, even if not directly. That kind of mentality — all involved parties pushing and pulling each other to be better — is something to keep in mind when watching the future of the Lakers unfold.
That’s the kind of culture and ideology the front office is hoping Pelinka and Magic can foster. Whether a fresh breeze of ideologies will make a difference remains to be seen, but the duo has laid it on thick since taking the wheel.
That’s what also makes Pelinka’s relationship with Luke so key. Walton is the direct extension of the front office, imparting this kind of thinking onto the roster. Communicating and relating with players is one of the strengths Rob sees in Luke.
“I think one of Luke’s big big strengths is his ability to interact with the players because he played and won a championship with great players, he coached and won a championship with the guys up North, so I think his rapport with the guys with our players is one of the things that really stands out. There’s a level of trust, he can talk with them at their level, and that’s one of the qualities of him that’s really stood out to me.
“One of the most important things to me as a general manager is fluid communication with the staff. Luke and I try to do that in person daily. If I’m on the road trips I’ll meet with him, if I’m here we usually meet in person. If we’re going through a tough stretch of losses like we were at one point, I said I want to do a road trip just to be around him and the staff, and show support,” Pelinka said.
The players all seem to have a solid relationship with Luke, as far as we can tell from a distance, and there’s no reason to think the Lakers are ready to cut ties. It’s clear they value Walton’s input in the franchise, and this should wrap up any doubts about whether the front office is thinking it’s time to move in a different coaching direction.
To watch the full 20-minute interview with Pelinka, head over to Spectrum SportsNet.