The writing appears to be on the wall for Luke Walton and the Los Angeles Lakers. While many expect Walton will be fired at the end of the season, things might be worse than anyone expected. According to ESPN’ Ramona Shelburne, Walton and Magic Johnson haven’t spoken in weeks.
That is, obviously, not good news for the 39-year-old Walton. In recent weeks, Lakers owner Jeanie Buss has said she will allow Johnson — who is the president of basketball operations — to make the necessary basketball decisions. If Shelburne’s report is true, Johnson may have already made up his mind.
Update: Johnson shocked the basketball world Tuesday night, announcing he was leaving his position as team president.
Given all the speculation surrounding Walton, it wouldn’t be a shock to see him go. Walton has been on the hot seat since the Lakers record cratered after LeBron James injured his groin on Christmas Day. The team has failed to recover from the injury, and have fallen out of playoff contention. With one game left in the regular season, the Lakers are 37-44.
While Walton hasn’t posted a winning season in three years with the Lakers, he did have to overcome a fair amount of injuries during the 2018-19 season. Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, James and Rajon Rondo all missed significant time throughout the year.
If things go the way the Lakers expect in the offseason, whoever the team hires as its next coach should have a much easier job. The Lakers are expected to try and recruit another superstar to play with James. The team is also considered a strong landing spot for New Orleans Pelicans big man Anthony Davis.
If it can pull off even one of those moves, the Lakers will be much better positioned to contend next season. It might not even matter who they bring in to replace Walton.
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