The idea that Lakers head coach Luke Walton is on the “hot seat” implies that he still has a chance to keep his job if things turn around, but that doesn’t appear to be the case, according to Martin Rogers of USA Today (video link).
Rogers hears from multiple sources that the Lakers are expected to move on from Walton at the end of the season, suggesting that president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and controlling owner Jeanie Buss are prepared to make a change.
Johnson and the Lakers have insisted for months that Walton will finish out the season with the team, but barring major unexpected developments in the coming weeks, it doesn’t look like the head coach’s stint in Los Angeles will last much longer than that.
Here’s more on Walton and the Lakers:
- Sean Deveney of Sporting News – who agrees that Walton “appears to be on a countdown to the end of his tenure in L.A.” – hears from a source that the Lakers’ head coach is viewed as a potential replacement in Phoenix if the Suns elect to move on from Igor Kokoskov this spring. It would be a little surprising if Kokoskov is fired just a year after joining the Suns, but the team is 16-53 and the GM who hired him (Ryan McDonough) is no longer with the organization, so stranger things have happened.
- The Cavaliers will be seeking a permanent head coach this spring and are expected to target a coach capable of developing their young prospects, per Deveney. Walton has some ties to Cleveland, having finished his playing career with the team when GM Koby Altman first joined the front office, so it’s possible he’d get a look from the Cavs, Deveney writes.
- Here’s what one source with knowledge of the situation said about Walton to Deveney: “He wants to stay in the game. For most front offices, I think you look at what he did in Golden State, what he did in L.A. before LeBron came, and you have to say he has a good, solid résumé developing players, dealing with stars. Have to think Phoenix would jump on him, if everything falls into place, but he might get a better offer.”
- As for Walton’s potential replacement in Los Angeles, Deveney suggests that LeBron James, Johnson, and Buss may all have different views on what kind of coach the Lakers should hire. Buss figures to support a “reasonable, qualified head coach who can please multiple factions,” according to Deveney, who cites former Pelicans coach Monty Williams as one example.