When LeBron James signed a four-year contract with the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency it not only signaled a dramatic change for the organization but head coach Luke Walton as well. After two seasons ushering along a rebuild, Walton and the Lakers suddenly faced vastly different expectations.
Nevertheless, James, Walton and Lakers front office and ownership all stressed a collective message of needing to have patience. While the team added the best player in the NBA, there would need to be time for chemistry to form.
But after seven games into season and with the Lakers coming off an 0-2 road trip, president of basketball operations Magic Johnson reportedly had a tense meeting with Walton. The nature of the conversation was said to have focused on issues with the offense.
While the situation could serve as a distraction, James explained why it’s not the case and how the Lakers can move ahead, via ESPN’s Dave McMenamin:
“It doesn’t bother me at all because I don’t pay attention to it, I don’t listen to it,” James said Saturday in advance of the Lakers’ game against the Portland Trail Blazers when asked about the noise surrounding his team, a day after ESPN broke details of the meeting in which Johnson was critical of Walton for his early-season decisions.
“It actually never even gets to me really, so it’s not a big deal for us,” James continued. “We need to figure out how we can string together some great games or even good games and bring our win total from where it is now. Because that’s the business we’re in. That’s the only thing we want to do. We want to be as good a team as we can be and win ball games.”
Speaking for the first time since the report was published, Walton maintained his relationship with Lakers management was in great standing. He also dismissed having any concern over job security, and that later was corroborated with indication Johnson was not primed to make a change despite some of his frustration.
While the Lakers have encountered their share of struggles thus far, there is not one specific reason, nor has it been primarily due to a top-10 offense. But with patience seemingly running thin, Walton would be best suited to get the Lakers on track or potentially take the fall.