LeBron James is a coach killer, or at least that’s the narrative that has hovered over him for the last decade. Whether or not there’s any truth to that is debatable, but James didn’t do anything to dismiss that notion this past season with the Los Angeles Lakers. In fact, he (or at least his camp) might have only fueled it.
In his thorough breakdown of the Lakers’ drama-filled season, Baxter Holmes of ESPN reported that James’ agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, told Adam Silver that he didn’t think Walton was the right coach for his client. Paul denied ever having that conversation in the report, but Silver remembers it pretty vividly.
During an interview on ESPN’s “Get Up,” Silver confirmed that Paul expressed concerns about Walton’s fit with James:
“He was in the same restaurant,” Silver said. “There were two people sitting there. He sat down for a second, and I think he said something along the lines that, ‘Luke Walton is not the right guy to coach LeBron.’
“My reaction was to shrug my shoulders and maybe say, ‘Well, who do you think is the right guy to coach?’ And he mentioned a name and that was that. I think as commissioner, I don’t want to shut people off who have a point of view.”
However, Silver didn’t think anything of it because, apparently, these conversations aren’t out of the ordinary:
Silver said that interactions like that are fairly common.
“I think he just wanted to say it out loud,” Silver said. “I don’t think he had any expectation that I would repeat that to anyone.”
So, to recap:
- Magic Johnson wanted to fire Luke Walton.
- Rob Pelinka wanted to — and later did — fire Luke Walton.
- Rich Paul wanted the Lakers to fire Luke Walton.
- The fanbase at large wanted the Lakers to fire Luke Walton.
That’s a lot of people that wanted the Lakers to fire Luke Walton, and, eventually, they did. The coaching search that followed didn’t end the way James and his camp seemingly wanted, though, and for that reason there will surely no be shortage of rumors regarding Frank Vogel’s job this season.
Is that fair to Vogel or the Lakers’ front office? Probably not, but it’s what they signed up for when they gave James a four-year, $153.3 million contract last summer.
All Lakers fans can do is hope that Vogel leads Los Angeles to a hot start. Otherwise, it could be another season filled with distractions.