When the Los Angeles Lakers hired Golden State Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton in 2016, he was viewed as a young head coach who could grow with the young core.
However, when LeBron James signed with the Lakers in 2018, it completely changed the team’s expectations and there were constant rumors about Walton’s job security.
While Walton certainly had his shortcomings, major injuries to James and their young core as well as the Anthony Davis trade rumors completely derailed the 2018-19 NBA season.
After the Lakers reportedly fired Walton following three seasons, he was quickly hired by the Sacramento Kings.
Prior to the team’s 99-97 win over the Kings, James reflected on his lone season with Walton in Los Angeles.
“Throughout everything that was going on, we were two of the guys that just tried to remain positive and patient even with the circumstances that we had,” James said.
“I don’t think anyone could have predicted that including myself and including Luke and we were just behind the eight ball. But throughout it all, we just tried to remain positive even throughout with the young guys… with the older guys… and whatever the case may be. So, I think he did as great of a job as you could do under the circumstances.”
When asked about James’ comments about him, Walton agreed but wanted to focus on the present with the Kings.
“I agree with LeBron,” Walton said with a smile. “That’s a longer answer and I’ve spent time reflecting on last season.”
Although James has been labeled as a ‘coach killer’ throughout his career, he has been consistent with his thoughts on Walton. Before the start of the game, James walked over to the Kings bench and hugged Walton.
While Year 1 was filled with a lot of what-if scenarios, James and Walton are focused on the present now.
As the Lakers eventually were able to trade for Davis to be James’ second All-Star player, the Kings provide Walton with a similar situation to the one he inherited three years ago.