As the Los Angeles Lakers continue to falter down the stretch of this season, the job security of head coach Luke Walton is becoming more questionable by the day.
The addition of LeBron James completely raised expectations and when a team doesn’t live up to those, the head coach is often the first to go. Further hurting Walton is that he was hired before Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka took over front office operations for the Lakers.
Most times, a new front office prefers to have their own hire as head coach and Magic apparently is no different. On ESPN’s “First Take,” Stephen A. Smith spoke about Walton’s future with the Lakers, first noting that had Walton been let go last year, the Charlotte Hornets would’ve jumped at the chance to hire him:
“I don’t know that definitively. I will tell you it’s not Mark Jackson, who I think should be a strong candidate if Luke Walton were to lose that job. I can tell you if Luke Walton did not have a job this year, the Charlotte Hornets — not just because of Mitch Kupchak but Michael Jordan — would’ve hired Luke Walton in a nanosecond. He would’ve the coach of the Charlotte Hornets.”
Furthermore, Smith added that Johnson has a coach in mind, who currently holds a head coaching position, if he does indeed decide to fire Walton after the season:
“The flip side to all of this is, I am told that Magic Johnson has a coach in mind in the even the elects to let Luke Walton go. I do not know the game of that person definitively, that’s why I don’t want to throw it out there. But I know it’s somebody that is already employed in the National Basketball Association as a head coach.”
Walton’s job security has been in question practically since James was signed with the likes of Mark Jackson, Jason Kidd, Tyronn Lue, and David Fizdale mentioned as options to replace him. Of those options, only Fizdale fits Smith’s criteria of already being a current NBA head coach.
Walton remains almost certain to finish out the season, but once that’s over, likely without a playoff berth, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether he will survive to coach another season.
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