Almost immediately after LeBron James signed a four-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers this summer, there was speculation regarding the future of Luke Walton as head coach of the team.
Walton will be James’ fourth head coach in six years and the seventh in his 15-year career. You can argue the reasons to why that is, but head coaches historically are given a shorter leash with James on the roster.
However, after just two preseason games, James was complimentary of Walton, telling Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports that he likes the way the team is being coached so far.
And after two preseason games in the books, James says coach Luke Walton’s up-tempo pace is the right call for the personnel on this roster.
“You see those young legs out there,” James told Yahoo Sports. “We would be stupid not to utilize that as a strength. That’s just good coaching.”
The Lakers have struggled to get their offense flowing in their first two preseason games and as a result, they have dropped both of their games, but they rank third in the NBA in pace so far during the preseason with an average of 112.18 possessions per 48 minutes.
So while the Lakers are off to a good start, it’s also a positive sign that James understands that building a free-flowing offense from the ground takes time.
“… Playing fast doesn’t mean shooting the first available shot,” James told Yahoo Sports. “We want to speed up the tempo to get a great shot and be under control. That will all come. That’s what the preseason is for.”
James’ comments are nearly identical to the ones made by Walton after the Lakers’ 124-107 loss in their preseason opener.
“We’re trying to play fast,” Walton said on Sunday. “We want to push it, the turnovers are going to come. But overall, I was pleased with the way we played for segments of that game, we just have to get more consistent in playing that way.
“This all takes time, we know that it does, so we’re fine and now we have tape that we can look at and break down and really get back to work tomorrow. We’re pretty far away [from where we want to be as a team].”
From the looks of it, James and Walton are on the same page so far, however, if the learning curve takes longer than expected, the honeymoon phase could come to an abrupt end. James has already gone on record and said he’s “not a very patient guy.”
Hopefully Walton and James can work together throughout the season to avoid any strain in their relationship because if the Lakers had to choose between James and Walton, I imagine they wouldn’t take too long to decide. However, with Walton renowned for his ability to build positive relationships with people and near universal approval rating from players so far, it’s probably too early to worry about that just yet.
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