According to a report by Adrian Wojnarowski and Dave McMenamin of ESPN, Johnson held a meeting in which he reprimanded Walton for the Lakers’ slow start. In fact, the meeting was so intense that it spread throughout the organization rapidly, according to the report.
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 oftentimes volatile management style, including with his handling of Walton and the coaching staff, sources said.
The report mentioning Jeanie Buss by name is interesting.
When Walton was rumored to be on the hot seat because of his rumored inability to rally his locker room through a tough season, Buss was one of the first, if not the first, person to come to Walton’s defense. Ironically, Buss said one of the reasons she brought on Johnson because they shared the same confidence in Walton, who Buss said she envisions coaching the Lakers for the next decade.
“What was important to me was how he felt about our coach, Luke Walton,” Buss said during a podcast on Forbes Sports Money. “Luke Walton is, he is somebody that I believe can be our coach for the next 10 or 15 years, as long as we don’t kill him.”
It’s for that reason it seemed highly unlikely the front office of Johnson and Rob Pelinka make a drastic decision with Walton this season. If they do, it will have to be with Buss’ blessing.
If they do anything this season, I’d bet on them replacing a few people in Walton’s coaching staff with people they trust (hello, Byron Scott and Kurt Rambis). If that doesn’t work, Walton could be looking for a new job come June, unless Buss has something to say about it.
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