Despite LeBron James’ recent return from a groin injury that led to his longest on-court absence in a 16-year NBA career, the Los Angeles Lakers have gone 1-4 in their last five games. Most recently, they lost to one of the league’s worst teams, dropping to a 28-29 record. As such, there has been speculation that Luke Walton could be on his way out of the team, though a new report suggests that the 38-year-old head coach is likely to keep his job for the meantime.
Citing a report from the Los Angeles Times‘ Broderick Turner, CBS Sports wrote that the Lakers have not had any “internal discussions” about Walton’s job status following the team’s latest defeat. On Tuesday, the visiting Lakers suffered a 117-113 loss against the Atlanta Hawks, who are currently ranked 12th in the Eastern Conference with a 19-38 win-loss record. This was the team’s eighth loss in the last 11 games — and their second straight, following a 143-120 drubbing at the hands of the Philadelphia 76ers (37-21) on Sunday.
“Nothing is going to happen with Luke,” said one of Turner’s sources, as quoted by CBS Sports.
“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.”
A former second-round draft pick who won two NBA championships for the Lakers as a player, per Basketball-Reference, Luke Walton hasn’t enjoyed the same success on paper as the team’s head coach. Currently in his third season as coach, Walton has compiled an 89-132 leading the Lakers, with his 2017-18 campaign, where he led the team to a 35-47 record, standing out as his best full season so far.
Rumors surrounding Luke Walton’s job security as Lakers coach have been swirling since the first few weeks of the 2018-19 NBA season. Notably, Walton was allegedly “admonished” by team president Magic Johnson due to the team’s slow start, as was reported in November by ESPN. Although the Lakers put together a good run in the month or so that followed, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski suggested in December that Walton “doesn’t fit the mold” of what Johnson expects in a head coach, according to Silver Screen and Roll.
Despite the revived speculation regarding Walton’s status within the Lakers, injuries have also been blamed for the team’s ongoing rough patch. LeBron James isn’t the only Lakers player who has missed significant time this season, CBS Sports noted. Hand injuries have forced veteran Rajon Rondo to miss a combined 31 games so far, while his fellow point guard, Lonzo Ball, is still sidelined due to a sprained ankle.