After the Los Angeles Lakers dropped a potential season-defining game against the Atlanta Hawks with president of basketball operations Magic Johnson watching from the sidelines, it felt like a near guarantee Luke Walton had coached his last game for the Lakers.
However, according to Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times, Walton isn’t going anywhere, at least this season:
There have been no internal discussions about Lakers coach Luke Walton’s job status in the wake of the team’s loss to the lowly Atlanta Hawks Tuesday night, according to people with knowledge of the situation not authorized to speak publicly on the sensitive matter.
Walton “will definitely finish the season” and has the full support of the Lakers’ front office, one person said.
According to someone in the organization, it’s not even a conversation that has been had, despite reports that have said otherwise.
“Nothing is going to happen with Luke,” one person said. “There hasn’t even been any talk about it and there won’t be any talks about it. Luke will definitely finish the season and he has the full support. So any talk in the media or on social media can be put to bed about Luke. He’s not going anywhere. There has been no conversation about it.”
While some fans might disagree, that’s the right direction for the front office to go.
The Lakers are a game below .500 and 2.5 games back of the eighth seed in the Western Conference. If they’re going to make a push for the postseason with just 25 games left in the season, they need to go with what they have. A coaching change 57 games into the season doesn’t exactly scream “playoff berth.”
It’s also fair that they give Walton a chance to show what he can do with a fully healthy roster. Remember, before James went down with his injury, the Lakers were the fourth seed in the Western Conference and they played like it.
It’s going to be nearly impossible for them to climb that far up the standings with their remaining schedule, but they’re going to need to play like a top-tier team in the Western Conference to sneak into the playoffs.
If they miss the playoffs, the front office will have a reason to can him. If they make the playoffs, the front office looks smart for giving him a chance. It’s a win-win situation for all parties involved.