Luke Walton

Lakers Notes: LeBron, Ingram, Rondo, Walton

After a decade and a half as competitors and teammates, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are preparing for their final meeting tomorrow night, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Wade, who hasn’t relented on plans to retire after this season, will travel with the Heat to meet LeBron and the Lakers in L.A.

“It’s bitter, and it’s sweet,” James said. “It’s sweet and sour. The sweet part about it is I’ve always loved being on the same floor with my brother. We struck up a relationship together at the combine in 2003, and it started from there. And the sour part about it is that this is our last time sharing the same court.”

James was destined for stardom as the top pick in the 2003 draft. Wade was taken at No. 5 and quickly established himself as an All-Star in Miami. They won a pair of championships as teammates with the Heat, then briefly reunited last season in Cleveland. Wade’s retirement will leave Kyle Korver and Zaza Pachulia as the only other active members of the 2003 draft class.

“The older I get and the more I’m in the game, I gain even that much more respect for these guys — the legends that we’re starting to lose along the way,” said Lakers center Tyson Chandler. “… You cherish every moment you get to compete against those type of competitors.”

There’s more Lakers news to pass along:

  • Brandon Ingram‘s sprained left ankle will keep him out of action longer than expected, according to Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. The team’s second-leading scorer at 15.2 PPG, Ingram will miss at least another week. “We really just miss the fact that we keep losing out on a great opportunity for our team to kind of find that rhythm together,” coach Luke Walton said. “Every time we start to find a little bit of a rhythm, we lose a big piece.”
  • Rajon Rondo is still experiencing swelling in his broken right hand, tweets Mike Trudell of However, the swelling is considered normal and isn’t a sign that Rondo’s recovery will take longer than expected. He was given a four- to five-week projection to return after the November 15 operation.
  • A brief experience with the Memphis Tigers provided Walton with the inspiration to become an NBA coach, relays Jason Munz of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Walton joined a former Arizona teammate on the college team’s staff during the 2011 lockout. “I went back and played for a few years after that,” Walton said, “but it was pretty evident to me after that that coaching was what I wanted to do when I got done playing.”

L.A. Notes: Harris, Rivers, Ball, Walton

Tobias Harris is one of the leaders of a surprising Clippers team that is near the top of the Western Conference, but he still isn’t immune to trade rumors. Harris checked with management after he heard his name floated as part of a package to acquire Jimmy Butler from the Timberwolves, writes Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports. It turned out that the Clippers were interested in Butler, but they envisioned using him and Harris together.

“It is hard, but you have to be honest and there’s times when you tell [players], ‘I can’t tell you.’ I tell guys that,” coach Doc Rivers said. “But with Tobias it was easy. I was pretty confident he wasn’t going anywhere. That one wasn’t that hard for us. We love Tobias. And we think he’s part of our future here.”

Harris, who has been with four teams in his eight NBA seasons, is headed for free agency next summer and can expect a significant raise from the $14.8MM he is making this year. Whether he stays in L.A. or not, he already has plenty of experience with the business side of basketball.

“It didn’t bother me. It was funny,” Harris said of the trade rumor. “At the end of the day, I’m so well-equipped and well-suited for whatever’s next that nothing will ever surprise me.”

There’s more today out of Los Angeles:

  • With cap room to offer at least one max contract, the Clippers are expected to be a major player in free agency and Rivers believes the organization has a unique selling point, relays Martin Rogers of USA Today“Coming to the Clippers and turning them into a team that wins a title? It hasn’t been done,” Rivers said. “For a lot of these players, it is the chance to go to a franchise and ‘be the man,’ be the one that gets them to something [we’ve] never done in the history of the franchise.”
  • The Lakers have tried several options to run the second-unit offense with Rajon Rondo injured, and it appears that job may fall to Lonzo Ball, according to Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. Ball played more minutes with the reserves in Sunday’s win in Miami and may get that role on a long-term basis.
  • Head coach Luke Walton has heard that his job is in jeopardy several times since taking over the Lakers, but he has a supporter in Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who coached LeBron James under similar circumstances, Goon adds in a separate story. “If you look at his whole professional career, all of [it] he has been involved with are teams like this with great expectations, with a lot of pressure and a lot of noise,” Spoelstra said. “He doesn’t know any different. I don’t think you can find a better fit than to coach that team.”

Pacific Notes: Walton, LeBron, Booker, Warriors

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.

Lakers Rumors: Chandler, Walton, Johnson

Tyson Chandler probably won’t have a major impact as the backup center behind JaVale McGee, according to Matt John of Basketball Insiders. Chandler is expected to sign with the Lakers once he clears waivers after reaching a buyout agreement with the Suns. Kyle Kuzma didn’t handle the role of backup center well and Ivica Zubac hasn’t earned coach Luke Walton‘s trust, John continues. Phoenix’s defensive rating with Chandler on the court wasn’t much different than when he was off it over the past three seasons but he’s still an upgrade over the current options, John adds.

We have more on the Lakers:

  • The team may be hitting the panic button with regularity this season, Mark Whicker of the Los Angeles Times opines. Their poor defensive effort against Toronto on Sunday night was the type that leads to impulsive front office action such as firing the coach, Whicker continues. Walton was the betting favorite to lose his job before any other coach, Whicker notes. And though Walton has remained in charge despite some grumbling from Magic Johnson, more performances like the one against the Raptors could change that, Whicker adds.
  • The way Johnson tore into Walton last week could negatively impact the way free agents view the franchise, Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times writes. Walton deserves a chance to figure things out and Johnson came across as a bully for dressing down Walton in a meeting last week, Plaschke continues. The fact that the story was leaked to the media shows dysfunction in the front office and that’s not a good look for free agents, who will be seeking stability next summer, Plaschke adds.
  • Johnson said Walton’s job was safe after Sunday’s game. Get the details here.

Magic Johnson: No Coaching Change Planned

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.

Lakers Notes: LeBron, Walton, Chandler

LeBron James made a strong statement in support of Luke Walton and the Lakers’ coaching staff following last night’s win in Portland, relays Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. Walton started to feel some heat after a 2-5 start and was “admonished” this week by team president Magic Johnson. The team has responded with two straight wins, and James left no doubt that he is in Walton’s corner.

“Listen, coaching staff put us in a position to win, and it’s up to us to go up and execute,” he told reporters after the game. “Luke can care less about what’s going on outside. We could as well. I’m the last person to ask about scrutiny or anything of that nature. So none of that stuff matters to me. The only thing that matters to me is what goes on inside this locker room, both home and away.”

James has clashed with coaches in both Miami and Cleveland and reportedly played a large role in getting David Blatt fired a year after he took the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals. James’ endorsement of Walton should carry a lot of weight with the Lakers’ front office.

There’s more this morning out of Los Angeles:

  • Johnson was less upset about the team’s won-loss record than what he perceived as a lack of identity at both ends of the court, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic. A source tells Amick that Walton’s job wasn’t threatened and that Johnson hasn’t lost confidence in his coach, even though he was hired by the previous administration. Amick also notes that owner Jeanie Buss viewed frequent coaching changes as a weakness of the management team that was in place before Johnson and GM Rob Pelinka were hired.
  • In that meeting, Walton appealed for another big man to back up starting center JaVale McGee, Amick adds in the same piece. That request appears to have been answered with the expected addition of Tyson Chandler, who is nearing a buyout with the Suns.
  • Chandler may not be enough to solve the Lakers’ issues on defense when McGee is off the court, suggests Kevin Pelton of ESPN. Pelton runs the numbers on Chandler and finds that his ability to protect the rim has been on a steady decline over the past six seasons. He states that the Lakers might have been better off waiting for another center to become available, such as the Bulls’ Robin Lopez or the Hawks’ Dewayne Dedmon.

Lakers Notes: Walton, Beal, Improvements

The Lakers are off to a disappointing 3-5 start which has called head coach Luke Walton‘s job security into question. After the team defeated the Mavericks on Wednesday, team president Magic Johnson reportedly “admonished” Walton for the team’s poor start and lack of identity as a team.

Walton downplayed the ESPN report of his meeting with Johnson, indicating that he is in constant communication with the front office about improving the team. Instead, Walton focused on the team’s ability to play the best team’s in the NBA competitively, per Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register.

“We’ve been saying since the beginning, we’re gonna to be patient — we know where we’re going and how to get there,” Walton said. “It takes time and takes hard work. Our guys work extremely hard, we’ve had a couple setbacks with some suspensions. But we’ve played some good teams and had a chance to win a lot of those games.”

Walton, in his second year as Lakers head coach, added that his job security is not a concern at this juncture.

“I feel like I have a great relationship with management,” Walton said.

Check out more Lakers notes below:

  • As the Wizards’ horrendous start to the season continues, it remains to be seen how Washington handles the situation. If the team does decide to break up the core, a potential trade of Bradley Beal to the Lakers makes sense, Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype outlines. The 25-year-old sharpshooter would give the Lakers a lethal threat from beyond the arc the current roster lacks and would likely improve from playing alongside LeBron James.
  • As the Lakers continue to find consistency, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin and Ohm Youngmisuk examine how Los Angeles can improve. Among the suggestions for the 3-5 squad is playing better late in games, getting creative with lineups, showing improvements in rebounding and avoiding foul trouble.

Pressure Mounting On Lakers’ Luke Walton

Prior to the Lakers‘ win over Dallas on Wednesday, team president Magic Johnson “admonished” head coach Luke Walton for the team’s slow start, league sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski and Dave McMenamin of According to ESPN’s report, the meeting elevated the sense within the organization that Walton is facing “intense and immediate pressure” to improve upon L.A.’s 3-5 record.

Before the regular season began, Johnson stressed in public comments that the new-look Lakers would require patience while they found their footing. However, sources tell Wojnarowski and McMenamin that the team president has a reputation within the organization for an “often-time volatile management style,” which includes his handling of Walton and the Lakers’ assistants.

As Johnson puts more pressure on Walton, the Lakers’ head coach continues to have the support of controlling owner Jeanie Buss and of the team’s new star, LeBron James. James has been both publicy and privately supportive of Walton, as the ESPN duo notes, defending the coach’s frequent lineup shuffling early in the season.

“I think Luke’s trying to figure out what works best,” James said. “We knew it was going to be like that from the summer when ‘Zo (Lonzo Ball) had the knee surgery. We knew we were going to have a lineup change there. Obviously, we had the unexpected one when we had the suspensions (to Rajon Rondo and Brandon Ingram), so we had a lineup change there… We’ll get to a point where we know how comfortable we need to be with different lineups.”

Wojnarowski and McMenamin indicate that Walton’s job security in Los Angeles will ultimately hinge on his ability to significantly improve upon the team’s 3-5 start, though it’s not clear how quickly Johnson expects to see a turnaround. In the short term, the team’s weekend schedule doesn’t bode well for a return to .500 — the Lakers will play in Portland on Saturday before returning home to host the Raptors on Sunday.

L.A. Notes: Stephenson, Walton, SGA, KCP

The offseason addition of Lance Stephenson is already paying off for the Lakers, who saw Stephenson put forth an impressive performance in Wednesday’s road victory against the Suns. He scored 23 points, dished out eight assists and grabbed eight boards in 25 minutes, shooting 10-14 from the floor.

“With [Rondo] being out, he’s our backup point guard pretty much right now, and he controlled the game,” LeBron James said of Stephenson, as relayed by Joey Ramirez of “He had great pace and found guys.”

Stephenson, a former nemesis of James, did his work off the bench on Wednesday. Since leaving the Pacers in 2014, he’s grown accustomed to coming off the bench and providing depth for teams in the backcourt.

“He still goes one-on-one, and he’s really good at it [so] we’re not gonna take that away from him,” head coach Luke Walton said. “But he’s doing more of how we want him to do it. He’s sharing the ball.

“He danced a bit late in the game, but for the most part he’s playing within the style we want to play. And he’s competing on defense, and that’s why he’s winning so much favor with the [coaching] staff right now.”

There’s more from Los Angeles tonight:

  • Lakers coach Luke Walton was fined $15K (full release) for publicly criticizing the officiating after the team’s overtime loss against San Antonio on Monday.  Walton was upset with what he perceived as excessive flopping from the Spurs, coupled with the various missed calls for his own players.
  • Clippers guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has already become a rotation player that the team can depend on, writes Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times“He’s just a really good player,” coach Doc Rivers said of the rookie.
  • Just three games into his new contract, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has moved from a starting role with the Lakers to coming off the bench, Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register writes. The impressive play from Josh Hart earned him a starting spot on Wednesday, forcing Caldwell-Pope to the second unit.

Pacific Notes: Walton, James, Curry, Cousins

The arrival of LeBron James has changed life for Lakers coach Luke Walton in several ways, writes Bill Oram of The Athletic. After two relatively stress-free years at the helm, expectations just went way up in Los Angeles. Walton only has to look at Erik Spoelstra in Miami and David Blatt in Cleveland to see the pressure that comes to coaches who are suddenly paired with the NBA’s top talent.

And Walton has more than just the LeBron dynamic to be concerned with. The Lakers have a large collection of veterans on one-year contracts who will all want playing time to maximize their value for next summer. There’s a huge hole in the roster at center, along with a point guard battle between Rajon Rondo and Lonzo Ball. There’s also the watchful eye of management, where team president Magic Johnson and GM Rob Pelinka are also under pressure to produce a winner.

“That’s one of the reasons Luke is good,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who once employed Walton as his lead assistant. “He’s grown up in the NBA and he understands what a weird world we live in. The job changes almost daily depending on your circumstances.”

There’s more tonight from the Pacific Division:

  • Walton plans to monitor James’ minutes to keep from burning out his new star, relays Dave McMenamin of ESPN. James played a league-high average of 36.9 minutes per game last season in Cleveland without taking a night off. Walton plans a much more relaxed approach to avoid tiring out James, who turns 34 in December. “We’ve got four years,” he said, referring to the length of James’ new contract.
  • Stephen Curry tells Marcus Thompson of The Athletic he doesn’t believe he’ll be in the MVP race regardless of the numbers he posts. The Warriors guard already has a pair of MVP trophies, but he says “the narrative” doesn’t work in his favor. “I don’t care,” he said. “I just know the narrative isn’t there, so I would have to go above and beyond. So, it’s whatever. I’m blessed to have three rings. I’m good.”
  • Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins has a new shoe deal with Puma after Nike refused to match his offer, tweets Nick DePaula of ESPN. Cousins becomes the top player associated with the Puma brand.