When Jeanie Buss overhauled the Los Angeles Lakers front office by ousting brother Jim Buss and former general manager and replacing them with Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka, respectively, some believed it invariably put head coach Luke Walton on the hot seat.
But while Walton was hired by the previous regime, he consistently has received public and private support from the Lakers owner. After leading the Lakers to nine-win improvements in two straight seasons, the arrival of LeBron James seemingly intensified pressure on Walton.
Johnson asserted the front office would be understanding of a slow start, considering the slew of new players, but the Lakers’ president of basketball operations had a contentious meeting with Walton after just seven games.
He’s coached under incessant rumors this season, and there’s a widely held expectation the Lakers will part ways with Walton. If that becomes true, Johnson may look to hire Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo, per Sean Deveney of Sporting News:
And while James might want to retread his old coach, former Lakers guard Tyronn Lue, or his old Olympic teammate, Jason Kidd, Johnson may want a push for Michigan State coach and friend Tom Izzo, who’s given no indication he wants to leave the collegiate ranks.
Johnson potentially targeting Izzo goes against a recent report that suggested he had a current NBA head coach in mind as a replacement for Walton.
Moreover, Izzo just won his 600th career game with the Spartans, an accomplishment that garnered a congratulatory message from Johnson on social media. Izzo has led the Michigan State to the 2019 Big Ten Tournament semifinals, where they face Wisconsin with an opportunity to play for the conference championship.
In June 2017, Izzo had his contract extended one year, taking him through the 2024 season.