When considering the reasons why the Los Angeles Lakers failed to make the 2019 NBA playoffs, many looked at then-head coach Luke Walton.
Considered a young but promising head coach, Walton was suddenly thrusted into a much different position upon LeBron James coming to Los Angeles in 2018 NBA free agency.
Rumors quickly swirled around Walton’s job security considering James’ history with head coaches along with the fact that the new regime in charge of the Lakers didn’t hire him themselves. Former president of basketball operations Magic Johnson tried to quell the rumors, but they continued until the end of the season when it was believed that he flat out wanted to fire Walton.
Walton was let go, but not before Johnson decided to step down from his position as well. Johnson would later admit that he did want to fire Walton and in a recent appearance on Undisputed with Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe, said that he believes that Walton wasn’t ready at that time:
“Luke was not ready at that time, but I’m happy for him he went to Sacramento. He’s going to do a great job.”
Johnson later stated Walton was not a championship head coach:
“We’re trying to win the championship and I don’t think he was a championship coach.”
Walton certainly made some questionable decisions during his tenure, but he showed promise as well. Unfortunately for him, the timeline changed once James entered the building. Instead of being able to grow with his young team, Walton suddenly needed to produce immediately for a team looking to win a championship.
Walton moved on immediately to the Kings, another young and promising team that may fit his style more than the Lakers did. Meanwhile, Los Angeles moved on to head coach Frank Vogel, who has plenty of experience on some of the NBA’s biggest stages.
Whether or not that turns out to be the right move remains to be seen. The Lakers are looking to win now and if they accomplish that goal, they will have no regrets.
On the other end of that, Walton could fulfill his promise with the Kings and turn out to be everything the Lakers believed he could be when he was hired.
Only time will tell what the future holds for both sides.