LeBron James’ first season as a Los Angeles Laker didn’t go as planned. The NBA superstar played just 55 games for the Lakers as the team registered a 37-45 record. The Lakers finished 10th in the Western Conference missing the playoffs by 11 games behind city rivals, the Los Angeles Clippers.
James will now miss the playoffs for the first time since 2005. It was a streak few expected to end when the NBA season started back in October. Now, seven months later, the job in which the Lakers’ front office must do is apparent. James must be surrounded with better players as his mere presence will not be enough as it was with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
There were some positives for the Lakers with the most notable being the team winning its most games in a season (37) since 2012-13. Still, a lot of work must be done and one of the first areas LA could attack is the head coach’s position currently occupied by former player Luke Walton.
Is Luke Walton’s time is up in LA?
According to a Sports Illustrated article from this week, Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson had been given permission to fire Walton at the end of the season. Johnson resigned from his role this week, however. His resignation puts the Lakers in even more limbo.
Walton’s job wasn’t supposed to last the entire season. Team owner Jeanie Buss was ready to cut ties with Walton far earlier in an attempt to save the Lakers’ first year with James. But Johnson and other executives resisted firing Walton.
The former Lakers’ forward hasn’t had much success as a head coach. Walton doesn’t appear cut out for the job as he looks like an overgrown kid who has wondered onto the court in his dad’s suit.
In three seasons as Lakers coach, Walton has never compiled a winning season; although Los Angeles have improved in the wins column each year. His record is an appalling 98-148 which is good for just a .398-win percentage.
Walton may not make it to the summer as Lakers coach as some have called for him to simply step down.
Reports indicate the Sacramento Kings want to hire him, but with Johnson publicly stating Walton and his assistants lacked the ability to develop young NBA talent, he doesn’t have much of an endorsement.
Who will coach the LA Lakers?
Unsurprisingly, the Lakers are interested in former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue. The former NBA guard was fired by the Cavs in October after life post-James started poorly. Lue has experience coaching James and the two teamed up for the Cavs in 2016 to win the NBA Finals.
Lue isn’t the only candidate as former Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson is in the running. Jason Kidd is also rumoured as a potential candidate due to a relationship he and James cultivated years ago.
It seems the Lakers front office is intent on bringing in someone that already has a strong relationship with James. When the Lakers signed King LeBron in 2018, they paved the way for any coach or player the star wanted to join him.
It isn’t the best strategy for the long-term future of the franchise. But with the Lakers last NBA Championship coming in 2010, they are desperate to do anything to turn the franchise around.