Lakers president Magic Johnson has said Luke Walton’s job is safe for the rest of the season, but Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders believes rumors of a coaching change will reignite if things don’t improve soon. Teams tend to look at their seasons in 10-game stretches, he explained, and the Lakers had a mix of positives and negatives in their 4-6 start.
However, they could start to slide out of the playoff race if the next 10 games aren’t better, which may cause management to reconsider Walton’s future. Kyler notes that Walton was hired in 2016 to oversee a gradual rebuilding process, but the timetable sped up quickly when LeBron James signed with the team over the summer. L.A. is focused on landing a second star in next year’s free agency, and a winning season could be an essential selling point in a highly competitive market.
Kyler believes it’s also possible that Walton is retained, but some of his assistants will be replaced. He doesn’t think Tyronn Lue, who was recently fired in Cleveland, would be considered if Walton is axed. Although Lue still has a good relationship with James, such a move could lead to a locker room “rebellion,” and James isn’t pushing for Walton to be replaced.
There’s more tonight from the Pacific Division:
- James supports the decision to televise the All-Star draft, relays Sam Amico of AmicoHoops. He and Stephen Curry served as captains last year as the top vote-getters in each conference, but the draft was done by phone and the order of picks wasn’t released. “What’s bad about it? It’s All-Star Weekend,” James said before tonight’s game. “You got 24 of the best players in the world that’s going to make the team. It doesn’t matter if you’re first or last, you’re 24 of the best in the world at that point in time. I don’t think it’ll be bad. We’ll see.”
- Suns star Devin Booker believes chemistry issues have affected the team as it has stumbled to a 2-8 start, according to an ESPN story. Phoenix fell at home to the Nets by 22 points Tuesday, marking its sixth defeat already by 18 or more points. “I think all good teams have that trust and chemistry, where they’re able to get on each other and know that it’s for a better purpose,” Booker said. “For us, I don’t think we have that right now. We’re not comfortable with each other, we don’t step on each other’s toes, we don’t push each other, and I think that’s what we need to do.”
- Dieter Kurtenbach of The San Jose Mercury News examines the challengers in the Western Conference and wonders if any of them presents a legitimate threat to the Warriors.