For all the talk of patience being required for the Los Angeles Lakers as they looked to integrate new players and develop chemistry around LeBron James, that appears to have already given way to some unease a mere eight games into the season.
The Lakers opened with three consecutive losses and after picking up back-to-back wins, suffered two more losses. Despite blowing a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter, the minor losing skid was snapped with a one-point victory over the Dallas Mavericks.
However, it has since come to light that upon returning from an 0-2 road trip, Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson had a tense meeting with head coach Luke Walton.
According to Tania Ganguli and Brad Turner of the L.A. Times, the nature of their conversation centered around the Lakers’ offense:
Johnson, president of basketball operations, shouted and cursed at Walton, according to multiple sources who weren’t authorized to speak publicly. He asked Walton what he was doing with the team, wanting to see an offensive system in place that had yet to be implemented
That offense would be the focal point does come as somewhat of a surprise. The Lakers rank seventh in offensive rating at 112.3 They are also fourth in pace (106.4) and 12th in the halfcourt at 93.7 points per 100 possessions.
That being said, the Lakers have grown stagnant at times when they are unable to get out and run.
On the other hand, their 112.4 defensive rating is eighth-worst in the NBA. That’s in stark contrast to a group that finished 13th in defense last season and was better than that until injuries derailed the Lakers late in the year.
Rebounding is an issue this season and one that Walton and the players have continued to stress the importance of improving on.
Beyond offensive and defensive ratings, the Lakers have remained competitive in each of their losses. All five have come by nine points or less, including a one-point overtime defeat and consecutive four-point losses.
And while frustration may be bubbling to the surface, the Lakers reportedly are not close to making a potential change at head coach.