Los Angeles — When news leaked that Magic Johnson had “shouted and cursed” at Lakers head coach Luke Walton last week over what Johnson reportedly saw as the latter’s failure to install an offensive system, it seemed like only a matter of time before Johnson would be hiring a new coach.
But Johnson says not so fast. In a pregame powwow with Tania Ganguli, Brad Turner and Bill Plaschke of the L.A. Times, Johnson said that Walton would at least make it through the season:
In a conversation with me, @BA_Turner and @BillPlaschke, Magic Johnson said his contentious meeting with Luke Walton had no bearing on Walton’s job security. “I said it, Luke took it and we’re all good,” Johnson said. Johnson assured us Walton will finish the year.— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) November 5, 2018
My read on our conversation with Magic was that he's not setting any kind of timetable for Walton. He wanted to make it clear that they won't be reactive to the ebbs and flows of the season when it comes to Walton's job. But he also doesn't regret yelling at Walton.— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) November 5, 2018
In a jconversation with me, @taniaganguli and @BA_Turner tonight, Magic Johnson said Luke Walton's job is safe -- "He is going to finish the season, unless something drastic happens, which it won't.''— Bill Plaschke (@BillPlaschke) November 5, 2018
That is not exactly a ringing endorsement of Walton moving forward, but it would seem to at least quell the noise around the team for now.
Prior to the Lakers’ game against the Raptors, Walton maintained that the reason the Lakers didn’t appear to have many offensive sets in place yet was because the team hasn’t been working on them, electing to only preach broad principles about their offense — share the ball, run in transition, etc — and focus mainly on defense during their limited practice time instead.
“When we divide up how much time we’re going to give to practice on each thing, we feel with the players we have and the way that we play, with how fast we play, we’re going to be able to score points,” Walton said. “We have unselfish players, we have guys that can get to the rim and obviously LeBron being one of those special players that can go get you a bucket whenever he needs to, our offense will take care of itself for the most part.”
Walton also added that he had received “some nice support” since news of his meeting with Johnson leaked, including from his dad — hall of famer Bill Walton — telling Luke “that he loves and supports me no matter what.”
However, Luke said that said support — and by extension, likely Johnson’s tepid pregame vote of confidence — hasn’t helped him, nor have the rumors made his job harder.
“The support is nice, obviously. Whether it’s coming from my dad or it’s coming from another coach it’s nice, but it doesn’t change what I’m doing as far as the job of coaching this team and coaching these players. It doesn’t influence that as all,” Luke said. “My job is hard, but it’s a lot of fun. I love my job and nothing changed.”
Now that Johnson has ensured Walton will make it through the year barring the unforeseen, it seems that nothing will change. For now at least.
You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.