Reports: Magic Johnson unhappy with Luke Walton’s offense, defense, assistant coaches

Dan Feldman
NBC Sports

Magic Johnson already covered the biggest issue from his contentious meeting with Luke Walton last week: The Lakers president said he wouldn’t fire the coach this season.

But Johnson also apparently addressed specific gripes with Walton.

Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times:

Johnson, president of basketball operations, shouted and cursed at Walton, according to multiple sources who weren’t authorized to speak publicly. He asked Walton what he was doing with the team, wanting to see an offensive system in place that had yet to be implemented. At one point he chided Walton for interrupting him.

Stephen A. Smith on ESPN:

Magic Johnson is not satisfied with how they look defensively, and he thinks that Luke Walton needs a better coaching staff. Now, he’s not going to say that publicly, but I’m telling you what I know.

Clearly, if Magic Johnson is telling you he wants a more-experienced staff, that’s a hint that you might need to take heed to and do it if you like coaching the Los Angeles Lakers.

Offense, defense, assistant coaches – anything else? That’s a lot for Walton to clean up.

The Lakers’ offense has been solid, though they’ve relied heavily on transition. When slowed into a halfcourt offense, Los Angeles stagnates too often.

The defense has been more problematic. The Lakers are a particularly poor defensive rebounding team.

But look at this roster. LeBron James is great, but the Lakers didn’t surround him with enough shooters to build a well-spaced halfcourt offense. Los Angeles’ defensive personnel is lacking, particularly at center (though maybe Tyson Chandler will help). Walton hasn’t been perfect, but he was handed a team with major liabilities.

He presumably had more say in selecting his assistant coaches – Brian Shaw, Jesse Mermuys, Brian Keefe, Mark Madsen and Miles Simon. If the Lakers will pay for higher-regarded assistants, Walton should take advantage. But who does Johnson have in mind? Byron Scott?

Walton also ought to be careful. Though tweaking the coaching staff might help save his job, hiring a more-qualified assistant might just mean hiring someone Johnson feels comfortable with as the replacement for the head coach.

What to Read Next