In the past few months, rumors and speculation have swirled around Coach Luke Walton and his future with the Los Angeles Lakers. Despite successfully acquiring LeBron James in the offseason, the Lakers were still unable to end their playoff drought in the 2018-19 NBA season. It’s definitely unfair for Walton to take all the blame for their recent struggles, especially knowing that the Lakers have dealt with numerous injuries this season.
Unfortunately, it seems like the Lakers have already lost their trust in Luke Walton, as several NBA rumors suggest that the team will fire him after the season. Despite his uncertain future in Los Angeles, Walton isn’t expected to give up on his coaching career. As a matter of fact, Sean Deveney of Sporting News revealed that Walton is set to be a “wanted man” on the coaching market once the Lakers let him walk away next summer.
One of the NBA teams who are reportedly monitoring Coach Luke Walton’s situation with the Lakers is the Phoenix Suns.
“The Suns have not committed to bringing first-year coach Igor Kokoskov back for next season, and with just 16 wins, Phoenix could take a step backward in a season in which improvement was expected. A source told Sporting News that Walton, who starred at Arizona, is seen as a top potential replacement for Kokoskov should the Suns make a move. But Walton could look elsewhere for opportunities, given the apparent dysfunction in Phoenix.”
What's next for Luke Walton?— Sporting News NBA (@sn_nba) March 16, 2019
Here's what league sources are telling @SeanDeveney about his future — and potential coaching replacements for the Lakers.https://t.co/4bzg1llzHr pic.twitter.com/T0v7Bbz5ix
However, as Deveney noted, Coach Luke Walton may not be interested in mentoring the Suns, given the current team’s dysfunction. As of now, the Cleveland Cavaliers are emerging as the top favorite to be Walton’s next landing spot. The Cavaliers may have named Larry Drew as their permanent head coach in the 2018-19 NBA season, but it seems like they don’t see him as the man who could help them develop and unleash the full potential of their young players, particularly Collin Sexton and whoever they pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
Coach Luke Walton reportedly has several ties in Cleveland, including Cavaliers General Manager Koby Altman. If the Cavaliers hire him next summer, Walton will also be working with familiar faces like Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson, who formerly played for the Lakers.
If the Lakers really decide to fire Luke Walton, some of the top candidates to serve as his replacement include former Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue, former Milwaukee Bucks head coach Jason Kidd, Tom Izzo of Michigan State, and former New Orleans Pelicans head coach Monty Williams.