The Los Angeles Lakers are beginning a new era this upcoming season and it may also include a new coaching era. While Luke Walton has been the Lakers’ coach for the past two seasons, that tenure could come to a halt at the first sign of trouble.
As the Los Angeles Lakers entered the 2018 NBA Free Agency period with a vengeance, it left me wondering if they are sabotaging the career of head coach Walton.
When Walton took the Lakers over, he was promised that he could mold them into his own vision. But this offseason has turned into the vision of President of Basketball Operations, Magic Johnson, and general manager Rob Pelinka’s, and not that of Walton’s. Luke Walton was given a team that had D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and Julius Randle. But Walton had to sit back as Johnson and Pelinka traded Russell to make room for Lonzo Ball then add Isaiah Thomas to a team he just didn’t fit with. He was given Brook Lopez but Lopez along the way forgot that he was once one of the most dominating offensive centers in the game.
While the Los Angeles Lakers would struggle under the guidance of Walton, the team was still learning his tactics while figuring out how to play as a unit at the same time. This was expected. But then everything changed this offseason and Walton’s team was no longer his team with one move. With the addition of LeBron James, the Lakers are clearly his. Not Walton’s, but LeBron’s. Can you honestly name a coach that LeBron has had smooth sailing with? Why would the Lakers put the young Walton in this position?
With LeBron signing a 4-year deal, the Lakers are tied to him and his ways until further notice. But a quick history lesson will show that the finger-pointing for losing will not be pointed in James’ direction but that of the coach. This is where Walton may be in trouble.
Then, to add more salt to the wound was the addition of Rajon Rondo, Micheal Beasley and Lance Stephenson, and while talented, Rondo has been known to clash with a coach or two during his run in the league. The same can be said for JaVale McGee, Beasley, and Stephenson. Now the Lakers will have to monitor Walton just a bit more as he has to deal with trade rumors and players who are used to getting their way. This is not how a young coach makes his mark.
Do The Los Angeles Lakers Belong To LeBron or Luke Walton?
Let’s be honest here, the Los Angeles Lakers, even with the new additions, are not built to dethrone the Golden State Warriors or even the Houston Rockets. However, many are predicting the Lakers could be as high as the 3rd seed and that’s a stretch. LeBron is good, but even in the Eastern Conference with pretty much the same talent surrounding him, he couldn’t reach the 3rd seed.
If the Lakers should fall below that, guess where the blame will fall – on Luke Walton – that’s where. This is unfair to him. He was given a team of young, athletic players who had to learn his style and how to play with one another to an almost complete rebuild with veterans.
So what happens if the Lakers do not meet expectations? Just last season, there were rumors of a Walton firing with no expectations. Now, he has to produce wins, or else.
This is not what Walton had envisioned or was promised when he took the job. The Lakers want to win but the calls are being made from the front office and not on the floor; that puts Walton in a really tough spot. It seems as if the Lakers have given him everything he needs to win, but in reality, he may just be the scapegoat when this all goes horribly wrong.