Despite an earlier assurance from Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations Earvin “Magic” Johnson that he won’t fire head coach Luke Walton “unless something drastic happens,” there have still been rumors suggesting he might not fit into the team’s long-term plans. With that in mind, a recent tweet from Get More Sports‘ Chris Sheridan hints that the Lakers already have someone in mind as his eventual replacement — former Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson.
As cited by ClutchPoints, Sheridan noted in his tweet that Walton has long had the endorsement of Lakers co-owner Jeanie Buss, who hired him before Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka were brought in to spearhead the team’s rebuilding efforts. However, he added that he spoke to an unnamed NBA executive who believes it’s a “matter of when, not if” as far as replacing Walton with Jackson is concerned.
Prior to the start of his coaching career, Mark Jackson played 17 seasons in the NBA, averaging 9.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, and eight assists per game, mostly as a starting point guard. Per Basketball-Reference, he took over as the Warriors’ head coach ahead of the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season and led the team to a 121-109 record in three seasons before he was fired in May 2014. He currently works as an NBA analyst for ESPN.
This isn’t the first time this month Luke Walton’s tenure as the Lakers’ head coach has been the subject of rumors around the NBA. According to a Silver Screen and Roll report from earlier in December, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski observed that Walton doesn’t appear to “fit the mold” of what Magic Johnson looks for in a head coach, as the former Lakers legend prefers coaches closer in temperament like the “fiery, old-school” Pat Riley, who coached the Johnson-led Lakers to multiple NBA championships in the 1980s.
One name to keep an eye on if the #Lakers DO change coaches is @MarkJackson13. He broadcasts in purple & gold from time to time. An NBA executive told me this morning that many around the league see it as a matter of when, not if. Luke Walton's patron saint on this is @JeanieBuss— Chris Sheridan (@sheridanhoops) December 28, 2018
Commenting on Walton’s rumored lack of job security, ClutchPoints wrote that it isn’t unusual for head coaches to appear as if they’re on the hot seat when coaching a team led by LeBron James. The publication cited the example of David Blatt, who, per Fox Sports, was fired midway through the 2015-16 season amid various allegations that James was the driving factor behind the team’s decision.
ClutchPoints, however, stressed that there don’t appear to be any pressing issues between James and Walton that could influence team management to make a coaching change.
The Lakers currently sit at seventh place in the Western Conference with a 20-16 record after losing two consecutive games with James sidelined due to a groin injury.