Lakers president Magic Johnson says Luke Walton’s job is safe despite a highly publicized meeting last week where the need for improvement was emphasized, relays Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. That meeting started rumors that Walton may not survive the first month of the season, but Johnson said a coaching change isn’t in the team’s plans.
“Yeah, we’re not going to fire him,” Johnson said Sunday night. “[The meeting last week with Walton] wasn’t even a meeting about that. We just have to be better, and that was it.”
Johnson added that something drastic would have to happen for Walton to be replaced, but declined to speculate what that might be, responding, “No, not going into that. He’s our coach, we’re supporting him, and that’s it.”
Johnson said the meeting with Walton, which came after a 2-5 start, was to discuss issues that were plaguing the team, especially on defense where the Lakers are among the worst in the league. L.A. responded with back-to-back wins, but was embarrassed by the Raptors last night, falling behind 41-10 on the way to a double-digit loss.
Before the game, Walton told reporters that he has been receiving messages of encouragement, but added that the public reaction won’t affect his approach to coaching.
“I have my job to coach this team and the support is nice, obviously, whether it is coming from my dad or it is coming from another coach,” Walton said. “It’s nice, but it doesn’t change what I am doing as far as the job and coaching this team and these players. It doesn’t influence that at all.
“… My job is hard, but it is a lot of fun. I love my job. And nothing changed. It didn’t get any harder.”
Walton is 65-109 since taking over the Lakers at the start of the 2016/17 season, but with the signing of LeBron James this is the first year he has had the talent to compete for a playoff spot.