The Los Angeles Lakers have impressed under head coach Luke Walton so far this season. Walton already has led the team to defensive improvement after years at or near the bottom of the league.
Additionally, L.A. is looking like a more attractive destination for free agents, which the likes of LeBron James and Paul George, among others, will be this summer. That benefit is an important one considering that the Lakers harbor barely hidden interest in signing James and another superstar free agent.
And while him praising Walton is by no means some type of guarantee he’ll sign with the Lakers, liking the team’s coach certainly can’t hurt. “Since Luke took over they’ve improved every single season,” James said after his Cleveland Cavaliers were soundly defeated.
“He’s just trying to implement that ball movement, body movement that he got when he was in Golden State.”
James knows that style of play well given that he’s gone up against it in the NBA Finals the last three seasons. And the lack of certainty he and the Cavaliers will make it back for a rematch might even increase his respect for that style of offense.
Look no further than Kevin Durant for how this could help the Lakers. Durant saw how unstoppable of a buzzsaw the Warriors’ offense was when it eliminated him from the Western Conference Finals. James could see the way the Lakers are playing as offering a similar foundation.
James also could have been being polite and praising a young coach, which is always a possibility in cases like this. Durant had nice things to say about Walton this season too, and no one is using it to project that he’ll sign as a free agent.
But things are different with James because of how many reports there have been of his varying levels of interest, or lack thereof, in joining the Lakers. These latest comments aren’t a final piece of the puzzle for either the side that thinks he’s coming and those who think he isn’t, but they at the very least are worth filing away for closer to the start of free agency in July.