After failing to reach the Western Conference playoffs for the sixth consecutive year, rumors and speculations continue to swirl around coach Luke Walton and his future with the Los Angeles Lakers. Walton is currently taking most of the blame for the Lakers’ inability to end their playoff drought, and there is a growing belief that the Lakers will fire him as head coach after the 2018-19 NBA season.
Though most people are convinced that it’s time for the Lakers to part ways with Coach Luke Walton, there are some who believe that it’s unfair for the 39-year-old mentor to be on the receiving end of the blame. In a recent interview with Allie Clifton of Spectrum Sportsnet (transcribed by SB Nation’s Silver Screen And Roll), Lakers superstar LeBron James said that he thinks Walton “played the hand as well as he could” given the circumstances he has dealt with this season.
“I saw something the other day where myself, [Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, and Kyle Kuzma] only played 23 games together this year. 15-8. We had a defensive rating of fourth in the NBA, and we were like seventh in offense when we played together over 23 games. As good as that is, it’s not enough for Luke to even know what he has on a consistent basis, when you don’t have a consistent roster every night during the season. Like you said, control what you can control and you’ve got to play the hand you’re dealt, and I think he played the hand as well as he could.”
WATCH: CBSLA Sports Director Jim Hill had a chance to speak to LeBron James earlier today and LeBron got pretty emotional when talking about Nipsey Hussle and their relationship. https://t.co/KitSwoYk7S— CBS Los Angeles (@CBSLA) April 6, 2019
The Lakers may have gone through ups and downs earlier in the 2018-19 NBA season but when all their players were healthy, they managed to reach as high as the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference. Coach Luke Walton has some perceived flaws, but with LeBron James’ recent statements, it seems like he still believes in his capability to lead the team in the 2019-20 NBA season. James also looks confident that he, Ball, Ingram, and Kuzma can accomplish something big in Los Angeles if they all stay away from injuries.
However, James will not be the one who will make the decision for the Lakers in the 2019 NBA offseason. Regarding Luke Walton’s future in Los Angeles, Lakers owner Jeanie Buss said that she will let President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka decide whether they will keep him for another season or not. Aside from having a coaching change, the Lakers are also planning to make a huge roster overhaul next summer.
Despite failing to secure a deal before the February NBA trade deadline, the Lakers are expected to resume their trade negotiations with the New Orleans Pelicans involving All-Star center Anthony Davis in the 2019 NBA offseason. In the potential deal that would send Davis to Los Angeles, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Kyle Kuzma are all expected to be part of the trade package that will be heading to New Orleans.