Lakers GM gives embattled Luke Walton vote of confidence
Speculation abounds that Luke Walton is firmly on the hot seat, but Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka insists the head coach’s job is safe. The dreaded vote of confidence, however, comes amid news that Walton is as good as gone, possibly sooner than season’s end.
The decision on whether or not to cut Walton loose will be made by Pelinka and president of basketball operations Magic Johnson, although Lakers co-owner and CEO Jeanie Buss is said to be reluctant to make a coaching switch during the season.
That said, Pelinka is at least publicly throwing his support behind Walton.
“Luke’s done an amazing job. We’re totally unified; Magic and Luke and I talk all the time,” Pelinka said, via Lakers Nation. Through this whole trade deadline process, we would spend hours on the phone just kind of going over different roster compositions, different skill sets we needed. Our communication is lockstep. He’s been tremendous. I think he has a passion to get this team in the playoffs, and you’re going to see him aggressively coach us to the very end, and we’re going to all stay together and support one another.”
The embattled Lakers coach has been attempting to downplay the notion that his job is on the line, despite reports indicating otherwise, and a reported confrontation he had with some Lakers veterans last weekend certainly is not helping matters. Walton addressed the issue this week and insisted the Lakers have moved on from the incident.
The Lakers notched a much-needed win Thursday night over the Boston Celtics courtesy of Rajon Rondo’s buzzer-beater, but the week has also been marred by LeBron James suffering the worst loss of his NBA career Tuesday night.
Speaking of James, he is said to be frustrated with Lakers’ direction this season, which obviously is not helping Walton’s cause, either.
Making matters worse for Walton is how ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that “players know” that their head coach is on thin ice. Further, Woj suggests the fact that Walton was not Johnson’s hire is further jeopardizing his job security.