Despite having the best basketball player on the planet, LeBron James, on their roster, the Los Angeles Lakers still failed to earn a playoff spot in the deep Western Conference in the 2018-19 NBA season. As of now, Lakers head coach Luke Walton is taking most of the blame for their recent struggle, and there are growing speculations that the team will fire him when the season is over.
In a recent appearance on ESPN’s The Jump (transcribed by ClutchPoints), NBA Hall of Famer and analyst Tracy McGrady decided to defend coach Luke Walton from people who are blaming him for the Lakers’ dismal performance in the 2018-19 NBA season. If there is someone who should take responsibility for their failure to reach the postseason, McGrady believes that it’s the “guys that put the pieces” not Walton.
“If there is blame to go around, I think you have to look at the guys that put the pieces, you know, surround the talent with LeBron James. And when a guy like LeBron James goes out, if you don’t have that talent that you acquired for this team to really carry the load when a guy like LeBron is out, then you have to take some fault at that. And they didn’t put those types of players around LeBron. They tried to go a different route and, you know, put these non-traditional type, you know, pieces around LeBron, and it just didn’t work out when he got hurt.”
Steve Kerr "disappointed" for LeBron James & the Lakers missing the playoffs. Steve Kerr & Stephen Curry also very supportive of Luke Walton as Lakers coach. Curry: "He’s a great coach. Anybody would be lucky to have him leading the team.” https://t.co/7MwfTJ92Op— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) April 4, 2019
Tracy McGrady definitely has a point. Even when all their players were healthy, it’s hard to imagine the Lakers’ current roster beating any Western Conference powerhouse teams in the league in a best-of-seven series. When the Lakers failed to acquire Paul George last summer, Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka earned plenty of criticism for their decision to sign JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo, Michael Beasley, and Lance Stephenson instead of bringing back their own free agents like Brook Lopez and Julius Randle.
During that time, Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka believed that surrounding LeBron James with playmakers instead of shooters would give them a chance of dethroning the reigning NBA champions, Golden State Warriors. However, as McGrady said, it just didn’t work out. When the 2018-19 NBA season is over, the Lakers have another chance of improving their roster.
They have enough salary cap space to chase the likes of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson, and Kemba Walker in the 2019 NBA free agency and a plethora of trade assets to engage in a blockbuster deal. Whatever type of roster Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka build next summer, it is highly unlikely that coach Luke Walton will be the one guiding them in the 2019-20 NBA season.