Having spent a portion of his playing career with the Los Angeles Lakers, head coach Luke Walton is certainly apprised to the pressure and scrutiny that comes with being a member of the storied franchise.
That’s been amplified since the signing of LeBron James, and particularly with his veiled criticism of teammates as the Lakers continue to fade in the Western Conference playoff picture. There also was the obstacle of several players being shopped in trade talks with the New Orleans Pelicans that went public.
The instances have been more of the external distractions Walton has regularly preached to his team that they ignore. In years past, the bulk of them have centered around trade speculation and Walton’s job security; the latter of which has hovered over the team this season as well.
“You take a job like this, you sit down and look at your characteristics, the characteristics you want your team to have. We’re fully aware of how difficult this job can be, but we also should be aware of how blessed we are to have our jobs,” Walton said.
“It’s why I try not to, and I encourage our players not to pay attention to a lot of that. A lot of it will get twisted, headlines will ready something totally different than what was said. It’s no different than anything else we’ve been preaching all year. That’s worry about our group. We’re the ones who are going to make things happen or not, so we can’t worry about outside distractions.
“What’s worrying going to do about it? We’ve got to come in and do our jobs. Right now, we’ve got to do some things a lot better, and that’s what my focus is on. It’s not what they need to understand, it’s what’s our priority? Where is our mind? It shouldn’t be on that.
“Those guys know LeBron, they’ve got good relationships with LeBron. The culture we try to build down here is supportive of each other. That stuff’s going to happen. We just have to go through and do our job and not let that seep into the way we play for each other and with each other.”
Walton revealed he has addressed the team over the external speculation. It is not something he prefers to do, but will take action if he deems it necessary. “Occasionally, I feel like it needs to be said and I like putting things out there so we can move past,” Walton explained.
“But the way that we interact, coming in Day 1, part of that reason is to set the culture so we don’t have to do more later on. Like, let’s put in our culture Day 1, so we don’t have to all of a sudden if something comes up, it’s total chaos around here.”
Walton did not reveal at which point he’s spoken with the team, but did say one case was not after an uninspiring loss to the New Orleans Pelicans.
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