0731 GMT January 25, 2020
‘Walton was fired’ would be a more accurate description, NBC Sports reported.
With Magic gone, there was uncertainty around the organization and the perception that Walton would not be let go quickly. However, General Manager Rob Pelinka is running the show and he was not in Walton’s corner. Walton could read the writing on the wall, he didn’t have the full weight and backing of LeBron James — LeBron’s exit interview was with Magic and Pelinka, not Walton — he was never Pelinka’s guy, and Walton knew what was coming.
“We would like to thank Luke for his dedicated service over the last three years,” Pelinka said in a statement released by the team. “We wish Luke and his family the best of luck moving forward.”
“I want to thank Jeanie Buss and the Buss family for giving me the opportunity to coach the Lakers,” Walton said in the same statement. “This franchise and the city will always be special to me and my family.”
Walton was 98-148 in three years as the Lakers coach, but that was seen as respectable considering he was handed a young team that was not going to win much. In his second season, the younger Lakers — Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma — showed development and the team played surprisingly good defense. However, when the Lakers got LeBron this summer the equation changed, the Lakers became much more about winning now, and that did not happen this season for a variety of reasons, only a few of which should be on Walton.
The Lakers are reportedly considering Tyronn Lue —James’ former coach in Cleveland — and Monty Williams, the assistant coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, for the job, reported Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.