Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton “will definitely finish the season,” a source close to the situation told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday.
Walton’s status has been a topic of discussion among fans and media as the Lakers have slid to 28-29 in an injury-plagued season.
But the Times cited sources saying Lakers owner Jeanie Buss, president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka agree that Walton should coach the rest of the season. The newspaper said those sources have knowledge of the situation but are not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
“Nothing is going to happen with Luke,” one source told the Times.
“There hasn’t even been any talk about it and there won’t be any talks about it. Luke will definitely finish the season and he has the full support. So any talk in the media or on social media can be put to bed about Luke. He’s not going anywhere. There has been no conversation about it.”
Walton is in his third season with the Lakers, finishing 26-56 in 2016-17 and 35-47 in 2017-18 with young rosters. The addition of superstar LeBron James in the offseason raised expectations, but injuries to James, point guard Rajon Rondo and point guard Lonzo Ball, among others, have helped put Los Angeles on the outside of the playoff picture with 25 games to go.
ESPN reported in late January that James’ camp would prefer a coaching change. Recent results — such as a 136-94 loss at Indiana on Feb. 5, a 23-point loss at Philadelphia on Sunday and Tuesday’s setback at Atlanta — have increased speculation about Walton’s leadership.
One source told the Times that James didn’t look “totally engaged” against Atlanta despite posting a triple-double of 28 points, 16 assists and 11 rebounds. Another source claimed the Lakers had “bad body language” against the Hawks.
Walton has a five-year contract with a base salary of $5 million per year, with four of the years guaranteed.
“Everyone believes in Luke,” one person told the Times. “Now it’s about him getting the best out of the team.”
–Field Level Media