Heading into the 2018-19 NBA season, the job security of Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton has been in question with the arrival of LeBron James in free agency.
But regardless of all the chatter, one person who Walton has always had in his corner is Lakers owner and president Jeanie Buss.
On numerous occasions, Buss has publicly backed Walton in the face of questions about his ability to lead the Lakers back to prominence and rumors that he wouldn’t make it through the rest of the season. Now with the season winding down, Buss stopped a little short of backing Walton.
In a recent live podcast taping, Buss praised Walton but refused to say that he would remain head coach after this season, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
“I’m not going to give you the answer to that question,” Buss said when asked about Walton remaining as coach in her appearance on the Sports Business Radio Road Show on Tuesday at Loyola Marymount University.
This doesn’t necessarily doom Walton’s fate as Lakers head coach as Buss was extremely complimentary of him throughout the interview. She spoke on Phil Jackson’s belief in Walton and pointing to how injuries played a major role in the team’s struggle, something Kobe Bryant also focused on.
Even still, this response is a far cry from the strong backing that Buss has given Walton in the previous face of criticism and skepticism about his job security. In the end, Buss has always said that Magic Johnson is in charge of all basketball decisions so the choice will come down to him despite whatever Buss feels.
Walton definitely isn’t the sole reason for the team’s disappointing season, but that doesn’t mean the questions about his ability to lead the Lakers are unfair. If the team feels it is best to move on, then that is the decision Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka will have to make.