Luke Walton's job is not in imminent danger despite the Los Angeles Lakers' slide since LeBron James went down injured.
The team is 2-5 since losing the star to a groin injury on Christmas Day but, even before their emphatic win over the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night, Walton's job was still thought to be safe.
According to The Athletic's Sam Amick, a source familiar with the situation said that there were no signs of any danger for the coach ahead of the victory.
"The dynamic between Luke Walton and his Lakers bosses is complicated enough that his situation will be worth monitoring until season’s end. Yet even before the Lakers routed Dallas on Monday to improve to 22-19, when they had lost five of six games since losing James entering play, a source close to the situation said that there were no signs of imminent danger for the third-year coach."
- Sam Amick, The Athletic
Talk over Walton losing his job as the Lakers head coach has been rife all season. The 38-year-old was odds on to be the first coach to get fired this season following the team's 0-3 start. However, Tyronn Lue ended up getting the boot first and a few others have followed since.
Magic Johnson, the team's President of Basketball Operations, "admonished" the coach in November, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. But he earned some reprieve after winning 14 of 19 games from November 7 to December 15 to take the Lakers seven games over the .500 mark.
Walton seemed to question the passion of Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram before Monday's statement win over the Mavs and the players responded with huge performances, scoring 21 and 29 points respectively.
“We’re competitors, so obviously if your head coach expects more of you, you’ve got to bring it to the table," Ball said after the game, "and I thought we did that pretty good tonight.”
What This Means
Walton, 83-122 in his two-plus seasons as a coach in Los Angeles, has never posted a winning record or led the team to the playoffs, but it is expected that things change with LeBron now in town.
The team's failure to carry on with the good work in his absence is rather concerning, but it's unlikely they miss the playoffs this season.
That would be tragic.