A wild rumor has recently emerged saying that the Los Angeles Lakers could fire head coach Luke Walton and replace him with David Fizdale in an effort to lure LeBron James to sign with the squad this summer. James and Fizdale have a long history together since the latter was an assistant coach to Erik Spoelstra with the Miami Heat during the Big Three era.
Walton, who will turn 38 later this month, began his coaching career as an assistant at the University of Memphis during the 2011 NBA lockout. Following his retirement in 2013, he briefly had a stint with the L.A. D-Fenders as a development coach before getting hired by the Golden State Warriors as an assistant.
He spent three years with the Warriors, winning the NBA title as a coach in 2015 before he was signed by the Lakers as their head coach in April 2016, replacing Byron Scott. So far, in almost two seasons with the Lakers, Walton’s head coaching record is 52-90 for a winning percentage of 36.6 percent.
According to Sporting News, Walton is currently at risk of losing his place as the Hollywood team’s chief bench tactician as Fizdale “has his eye on the Lakers job.” Fizdale, who was fired by the Memphis Grizzlies in November of last year, reportedly has “strong ties to James” and could facilitate LeBron’s signing when the three-time NBA champion becomes an unrestricted free agent this July.
Fizdale, 43, was an assistant coach for the Heat from 2008 to 2016. He handled James for four seasons, from 2010-2011 and 2013-2014, winning two NBA titles during that span. The former Golden State Warriors and Atlanta Hawks assistant became the Grizzlies’ head coach in May of 2016 until he was fired last season.
James was one of the players who defended Fizdale during his firing, voicing out his opinion in social media. Fizdale accumulated a win-loss record of 50-51 (49.5 winning percentage) during his stint in Memphis.
The report said that the “league view is if the Lakers can land James with Fizdale’s help, they’ll have to move on from Luke Walton.” It also cited ESPN’s Brian Windhorst as saying that league executives are expecting the Lakers to favor Fizdale over Walton, particularly after the club’s management almost took LaVar Ball’s recent criticism of the head coach nonchalantly.