As if going through their worst stretch of the season wasn’t enough, the Los Angeles Lakers, specifically head coach Luke Walton, were again the target of criticism from LaVar Ball. The outspoke father’s latest claim was Walton has lost the locker room and players no longer are motivated to play for him.
Ball’s remarks came on the heels of the Lakers suffering back-to-back blowout losses, running their losing streak to nine games. Lakers officials have not publicly responded to Ball’s comments, but Walton’s job security is not said to be in danger.
Walton did receive strong support from Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle, who also is the head of the NBA coaches association. Carlisle was critical of ESPN for publishing Ball’s comments, citing the relationship the network shares with the league.
Walton also revealed other coaches have contacted him to privately express their support. “They’re all on the same idea of it’s our job as coaches to coach our teams, not be concerned with parents and what other people outside of the organization think,” he said.
“A lot of them have shown support as far as they know what it’s like coaching young teams and from what they see, how hard our group players. And they, just like I do, they really like our young team and the way that we compete.”
Atlanta Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer wasn’t as stern as Carlisle, but he too backed Walton. “I think Luke does a great job. I think he’s shown in multiple different settings and situations, including [with the Lakers] that he’s a great young coach,” Budenholzer said.
“I feel like he and I are learning a lot and relatively new to being head coaches. I’m totally impressed by him. When you have young players and a young team overall, there’s a lot to learn both from a coaching perspective and player perspective.
“The way Luke, the Lakers and Lonzo have handled it, I think is pretty admirable. I think they have a good idea of what they want to do and where they’re going.”
Budenholzer was reluctant to expand on his remarks, so as not to give the situation further credence, and concluded by saying, “It’s unfortunate in a lot of ways.”
Walton reiterated the matter is not “ideal,” though again said he understands parents will have their own opinions. His focus remains on the Lakers and preparing them best as he can.
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