Heading into the 2018-19 NBA season, head coach Luke Walton and the Los Angeles Lakers as a whole emphasized the need for patience with LeBron James and the young core. However, after a 3-5 start where all five losses were by nine points or less, president of basketball operations Magic Johnson’s approach apparently changed.
As Johnson reportedly ‘admonished’ Walton, with more details eventually revealing the meeting was more about the team’s offensive system than wins and losses.
For Walton and his coaching staff, their approach has not changed and they will continue prioritizing improvement. “I’ve been saying, we’ve been saying since the beginning, we’re going to be patient,” Walton explained after practice.
“We know where we’re going, we know how to get there. It takes time and hard work. Our guys work extremely hard. We’ve had a couple setbacks with some suspensions but we’ve played some good teams and we’ve had a chance to win a lot of those games. Unfortunately, we haven’t, but that’s the NBA. We plan on winning those in the future.”
“It’s most important right now that we’re getting better. That’s the priority of what we’re doing. Winning is nice, but getting better is what we’re trying to do.”
When James signed a four-year, $154 million contract in free agency, the question was when this type of report would surface. As Walton was well-prepared for all of the attention James brings, he maintains he has a good relationship with Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka.
At this current stage, the Lakers acknowledged there would be early season struggles with the addition of James and seven new players. While there is outside pressure to be immediate championship contenders, the Lakers have shown they will eventually get there as they learn how to close out games.