Coach Luke Walton’s future with the Los Angeles Lakers has been a major question since the arrival of LeBron James in the 2018 NBA offseason. Every time the Lakers struggle, rumors and speculations have been swirling that the team may consider firing Walton as their head coach. That is definitely not a surprise, especially with James’ history of influencing the front office’s decisions during his stints with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Miami Heat.
In late January, Jackie McMullan of ESPN said in an appearance on Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective podcast that some people in LeBron James’ camp were urging the Lakers to have a coaching change.
“It’s clear to me, and probably to you Brian, that LeBron’s camp would prefer a coaching change. They’re not too subtle about that. I don’t think that’s fair, I don’t.”
McMullan made it clear that LeBron James didn’t make such claims to the Lakers’ front office, but his camp believes it will be best for the team to replace Luke Walton with a more experienced head coach. In a recent interview with TMZ Sports, Walton said that there’s no friction existing between him and LeBron James, adding that both of them “get along just fine.”
“I don’t know anything about that,” Walton said. “LeBron and I get along just fine.”
— Bleacher Report NBA (@BR_NBA) February 18, 2019
Aside from their struggle making adjustments with their game playing alongside LeBron James, some of the Lakers’ young players faced a major distraction before the February NBA trade deadline. When Anthony Davis became officially available on the trading block, the Lakers reportedly offered their entire young core of Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, and Ivica Zubac to the New Orleans Pelicans. Though the blockbuster deal didn’t push through, the performances of the players involved were greatly affected.
The Lakers went 1-4 despite having LeBron James back from a groin injury and as of now, they are out of the playoff race, sitting in the No. 10 spot in the Western Conference with a 28-29 record. The Anthony Davis trade rumors undeniably made a huge impact on the Lakers, but Coach Luke Walton said it didn’t affect him at all. Despite their current struggles, Walton remains very optimistic that they could end their playoff drought this season.
“We’ll be alright,” Walton said.
“We have some work to do, but we can do it.”
There are still plenty of games left before the real battle begins in the Western Conference Playoffs. If the Lakers improve their performance on both ends of the floor and remain healthy, they could still be able to make huge noise in the 2018-19 NBA season.
The Lakers’ next game will be against the Houston Rockets on Thursday night at the Staples Center.