NBA coaches may have publicly labeled LaVar Ball’s criticism of Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton as “irrational nonsense,” but behind closed doors league executives are wondering if Ball was right.
At least, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.
LaVar, the outspoken father of Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball, told ESPN last week, “You can see they’re not playing for Luke no more. Luke doesn’t have control of the team no more. They don’t want to play for him.” And coaches from Rick Carlisle to Steve Kerr and Gregg Popovich all came to Walton’s defense.
Two entities who didn’t come to Walton’s defense: Lonzo and the Lakers.
“I’ll play for anybody,” said Lonzo.
As for the Lakers, there’s been little public support for Walton, outside of a tepid hashtag from owner Jeanie Buss and some anonymous sourcing about the coach’s job not being in danger. We’ll let Windhorst explain on the Rich Eisen Show, via Slam magazine, how that is playing across the NBA:
“Whatever you want to say about LaVar Ball, he has smoked out the fact that the Lakers do not support Luke Walton. And that is now crystal clear. And there are now guys out there wondering openly to me — executives, coaching agents — who the Lakers are going to hire as their next coach. Because that has been revealed here: That they do not have unconditional support for Luke.”
Can you imagine if the Lakers dump Walton after what LaVar said? What kind of message would that send to a young team? They might as well make LaVar the coach at that point. Or, says Windhorst:
“I got executives in my ear, I got agents in my ear, saying, ‘Oh yeah, they’re probably going to hire David Fizdale.’”
And why do people around the NBA think the Lakers will go after Fizdale? According to Windhorst, it’s because LeBron James likes Fiz and publicly supported him after his firing from the Memphis Grizzlies.
LeBron speaks out about David Fizdale getting fired: "Maybe that's what it was, because he ain't gonna kiss nobody's ass I know that."pic.twitter.com/xujBeB18yl
— The Shadow League (@ShadowLeagueTSL) November 28, 2017
This is a lot of dots to connect, especially since we’re just four days removed from Windhorst’s ESPN colleague Ramona Shelburne reporting that Walton losing his job is “not even a real conversation.”
Luke Walton's job status is "not even a conversation" according to a Lakers source. https://t.co/7UoivlCUtH
— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) January 7, 2018
Of course, conversations can change after the season. Fizdale is a good coach. The Lakers also thought Walton was one not long ago. Whether they still do remains a mystery. Only LaVar Ball knows, I guess.
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