NBA rumors: Lakers expected to dismiss coach Luke Walton at season's end

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Brian Witt
A new report has Luke Walton on the outs in Laker land. Could an eventual return to Golden State be in store?
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NBA rumors: Lakers expected to dismiss coach Luke Walton at season's end originally appeared on nbcsportsbayarea.com

The Lakers are coming off a terrible loss and now sit at 30-33 on the season, 4.5 games back of San Antonio for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

LeBron James' "playoff-mode" activation doesn't seem to have changed the Lakers' trajectory for the better, prominent members of the fan base are calling for sweeping changes, and now head coach Luke Walton's fate appears to be hanging in the balance.

According to the New York Times' Marc Stein, Walton isn't expected to last beyond this season.

"The prevailing assumption in league coaching circles remains that Walton will almost certainly be dismissed after the season," Stein wrote Monday.

The Lakers have been perhaps the most disappointing team in the NBA this season, and they now face stiff odds to qualify for the playoffs. When James -- who has made the playoffs in each of the last 13 seasons -- announced he was signing with Los Angeles last July, a postseason berth was thought to be a given, but that's not how it's played out.

And now, it appears Walton will have to answer for that impending failure.

You can make the argument Walton doesn't deserve the most blame for the Lakers' disappointing season, as their roster construction was suspect, to say the least.

Still, if Walton is dismissed after the season, he'll likely have plenty of opportunities at both the NBA and collegiate levels. One former employer -- the Golden State Warriors -- would almost certainly welcome him back with open arms, as he is held in extremely high regard by head coach Steve Kerr.

[RELATED: Why the Warriors reportedly are reuniting with Bogut]

The Warriors do not currently have any vacancies on their coaching staff, but as is often the case with championship-caliber teams, their staffs tend to get plucked from at season's end. 

If Walton is ultimately fired by the Lakers, don't rule out a return to Golden State.