One could have probably guessed that something like this was going on behind the scenes, but the fact that it was made public adds extra pressure for Walton, who was brought in before Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka took over in 2017, to win now.
Despite this, Walton doesn’t feel like his job security is at risk (it reportedly isn’t) and told reporters “I’m not going anywhere” after practice on Friday. Walton also said that his team had already been cautioned that things like this would happen over the course of the regular season.
“We talked about that before the season even started,” Walton said. “So here’s the first (rumor). Let’s handle it as a group, not give it life and keep working on what we need to work on, and I thought we came out today and had a great practice. Players were engaged and involved, talking to each other about what needs to be done as well as the coaches, which is the type of environment and the type of culture we want. I think we’re in a good place.”
Walton understood going into the season — and given the massive expectations for this team — that there would be more outside noise than in years past and he was prepared for it.
”It’s going to be about me, it’s going to be about players, it’s going to be about front office, it’s going to be about everything,” Walton said. “That’s just the way that it is, and I fully expected when I made those statements earlier that I would be part of those scenarios throughout the season.”
The Lakers won’t be made available to the media until before they tip-off against the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday. It’s going to be interesting to see how the team responds to the reports, assuming they do at all.
While the front office gets the final word at the end of the day, a few supportive words from his locker room certainly wouldn’t hurt his situation.
You can follow this author on Twitter at @RadRivas.