Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton has seemingly been on thin ice with the front office for most of the season, and his failure to lead Los Angeles to a playoff berth probably didn’t help make the ground under him any more sturdy. However, there was always little doubt that Walton would make it through the year.
Not only did president of basketball operations Magic Johnson tell reporters he wouldn’t fire Walton in November (!!!), but there was also a belief that team president and controlling owner Jeanie Buss would step in if the front office decided to fire Walton this season. With seven games left in the season, that’s held true.
Once the season is over, though, Buss will reportedly let Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka do their job as they see fit.
According to Bill Oram of The Athletic, there is a feeling that Buss will not intervene if Johnson and Pelinka decide Walton’s overstayed his welcome with the Lakers:
He has long had an ally in Lakers owner Jeanie Buss, but team sources have indicated that she will let Johnson dictate what the Lakers do on the bench.
Buss joined the Lakers in Milwaukee at the end of their recent five-game East Coast road trip. For part of the flight home on the team charter, Walton sat next to the owner. They talked about “a bunch of different things,” he said, without going into detail.
“We were on an airplane,” Walton told The Athletic. “We weren’t going to get too deep into anything.”
In other words, Walton should probably start looking for a new job, assuming he hasn’t already — and it sounds like he hasn’t, because he’s still saying he expects to be around next year.
It’s certainly possible that Walton will have a successful coaching career on whatever team he ends up on next, but it seems as though the current front office doesn’t feel like they can afford to wait and find out if he ever does with an aging LeBron James on the team. Perhaps they’d feel differently if Walton was the guy they hired, but he wasn’t, and that could ultimately be the reason he’s shown the door this summer.
While nothing is over until it’s over, it looks like the end is near for Walton.