At the end of the 2018-19 NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers were widely expected to fire head coach Luke Walton following three seasons.
While it eventually happened, there was a chance Walton could have remained in Los Angeles after president of basketball operations Magic Johnson’s sudden resignation.
As Walton is the Sacramento Kings head coach and has been accused of sexual assault by former Spectrum SportsNet host Kelli Tennant, the Lakers did not know about these allegations and it reportedly ‘had no bearing’ on his job status.
In fact, Walton was reportedly given a chance to remain the Lakers head coach after Johnson resigned, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic:
After former Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson stepped down in such stunning fashion on April 9, sources say Walton was given the chance to stay on as head coach in a subsequent meeting that included owner Jeanie Buss. But Walton, who was already aware that Buss had given Johnson the full authority to fire him and who had long harbored concerns about general manager Rob Pelinka’s style, was ready to head for the exits himself.
Since the team’s final game against the Portland Trail Blazers, there have been conflicting reports. While the Lakers issued a statement saying they mutually agreed to part ways with him, Walton reportedly wanted to stay but was fired instead.
Regardless of how it ultimately ended, the Lakers are moving forward in their coaching search. After interviewing Miami Heat assistant coach Juwan Howard, the Lakers reportedly have scheduled a second interview with former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue which will include owner Jeanie Buss this time around.