It’s Monday, which means it’s time to open up the “Locked on Lakers” iTunes mailbag to get to all your questions. Before I get to that, though, it was time to have that talk about Luke Walton.
The Los Angeles Lakers gave up 143 points over the weekend — their most in any regulation game this season — signaling apathy on the defensive end. Seeing as Walton has made his most positive impact on that end of the floor, could that mean his messages are falling on deaf ears in his locker room?
In the show, I explain the situation using a poker analogy. Basically, he was dealt an okay hand (pocket sixes, for example). It’s hard to complain about coaching a LeBron James team with an exciting young core, but given the lack of support Walton has received from the front office and LeBron, there are complaints to be made off the court, as well as the frustrations on it stemming from the poor roster construction.
There are ways to win with pocket sixes that go beyond hoping to hit a third six. Personally, I prefer to raise pre-flop aggressively so as to take out any random hands that could derail my chances at winning the pot. In this analogy, I’d argue Walton merely called the blinds and allowed those hands to linger by hiring a fairly uninspiring coaching staff.
Let’s get to the flop, then. For this analogy, I said it’d be a middling pair and a low-ish third card. Ideally, I would usually bet fairly aggressively seeing as it’s probably unlikely anyone hit three of a kind after calling a pre-flop raise, meaning my two-pair has a pretty good chance of being the best hand out there, though I still have work to do. Again, though, Walton would merely call by implementing such a rudimentary offensive system.
The point of all this is to say Walton could have done a couple things to ensure his success despite some of the shortcomings around him. Maybe he stood no chance no matter what, seeing as he wasn’t the choice of either Magic Johnson or LeBron, but he also put himself at a higher risk of losing his job with some of the choices he’s made along the way.
We’ll see how this situation plays out for the remainder of the year and then into the offseason. By all accounts, Jeanie Buss has had Walton’s back at every turn and that hasn’t changed. Yet. To be honest, I think we’re nearing that point where it might be time for a coaching change. Some type of reset button needs to be hit in the locker room, and that’s the only feasible one right now, which sucks because I do think eventually, Walton could grow to be a good coach if he learns from the mistakes he’s made here in L.A.
In the second and third segments, I answered all your questions, and there were quite a few. Topics included: Which young player I’d most want to keep if that was possible in a superstar trade, why Brandon Ingram seems to start slow pretty regularly and whether that can be fixed, and plenty more.
Listen to the full conversation below and subscribe on iTunes, where you can also leave questions in the form of a five-star review to guarantee your topic makes the show.