NBA Rumors: Adam Silver Says Rich Paul Told Him Luke Walton Isn’t ‘The Right Guy To Coach LeBron’

Luke Walton, then coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, reacts to a call during a game against the Golden State Warriors.
Harry How / Getty Images

Earlier this week, ESPN’s Baxter Holmes took a detailed look at the dysfunction that allegedly took place during the Los Angeles Lakers’ “failed reboot” of the past few seasons, particular their recently concluded 2018-19 campaign. This report covered numerous tense dealings Lakers staff members had with the team’s front office, especially former team president Magic Johnson, the controversial personnel moves made by Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka, as well as the drama that surrounded the team’s unsuccessful attempts to trade for New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis. It was also alleged that LeBron James’ agent, Rich Paul, raised concerns about recently dismissed head coach Luke Walton in discussions with NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

While Holmes noted that Paul denied almost every allegation made against him in the above report, including the conversation he supposedly had with Silver, the commissioner confirmed in an appearance on ESPN’s Get Up that Paul did indeed tell him about his reservations with Walton. As quoted by Silver Screen and Roll, Silver recalled how the Klutch Sports founder was in the same restaurant as he was when he “sat down for a second” and said something to the effect of “Luke Walton is not the right guy to coach LeBron.”

“My reaction was to shrug my shoulders and maybe say, ‘Well, who do you think is the right guy to coach?’ And he mentioned a name and that was that. I think as commissioner, I don’t want to shut people off who have a point of view.”

In the end, Silver reportedly didn’t think much about the conversation, given that these tend to happen frequently and that Paul most likely wanted to air his concerns out loud.

“I don’t think he had any expectation that I would repeat that to anyone,” the commissioner said.

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Ultimately, the Los Angeles Lakers fired Walton at the end of the 2018-19 regular season, where they missed the playoffs for a sixth straight season after finishing with a 37-45 record. Walton then signed with the Sacramento Kings as Dave Joerger’s replacement as head coach, just one day after he parted with the Lakers. Meanwhile, Los Angeles’ top two choices as head coach — Tyronn Lue and Monty Williams — turned down a chance to coach the Lakers, who instead opted to hire former Orlando Magic and Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel.

Considering how multiple parties — Johnson, Pelinka, Paul, and the Lakers’ own fanbase in general — apparently wanted Walton out as head coach, Silver Screen and Roll speculated that Vogel could be in for similar doses of rumors and innuendo regarding his job security as he hopes to lead the Lakers to success in the 2019-20 season. The outlet warned that Lakers fans may be in for another “season filled with distractions” if Vogel isn’t able to lead the team to a strong start.