While expectations changed for the Los Angeles Lakers with the signing of LeBron James, the front office and head coach Luke Walton stressed the need for patience. Although confident in their roster, the number of new players would call for time to gel and develop chemistry.
“I know we will struggle in the beginning because so many guys haven’t played with each other, don’t know each other, and that whole thing,” president of basketball operations Magic Johnson said in September.
“As we were talking to Luke, we said, ‘Don’t worry about if we get off to a bad start.’ We’ve seen that with LeBron going to Miami. We’ve seen that when he came back to Cleveland. You’re going to struggle because there’s so many moving parts but eventually we’re going to get it and we’re going to be a really good team.”
Patience seemingly wore thin somewhat quickly as Johnson met with Walton last week and ‘admonished’ him over a lack of offensive identity, among other topics discussed. Despite the tense meeting, Walton was not believed to be in danger of losing his job, and Johnson since confirmed as much.
As is often the case when a head coach is placed in a difficult situation, peers tend to offer words of encouragement. “There’s been some nice support,” Walton said.
“My job is to coach this team, and the support is nice, whether it’s coming from my dad or another coach, but it doesn’t change what I’m doing as far as my job in coaching this team. It doesn’t influence that at all.”
To Walton’s credit, he hasn’t shown any drastic change in his focus or approach since facing the harsh criticism. “My job is hard but it’s a lot of fun,” he said.
“I love my job and nothing changed, so it didn’t get any harder. We went about doing our business the same as we always do.”
Of the support Walton received the most predictable came from his father. “That he loves and supports me no matter what,” Walton said was the message.