Among several clouds covering the Los Angeles Lakers for the better part of the last year has been Luke Walton’s less than secure position. The third-year head coach has effectively manned the sidelines on the hot seat all season, with most people around the league expecting him to be fired at the conclusion of what has been a disastrous year.
while Walton has made his own share of mistakes that could ultimately be pointed to as reason for change, he was never quite given a fair shake with the LeBron James-led Lakers. For one, it seems as though the Lakers – and Magic Johnson, in particular – have been sowing the seeds for his replacement for some time.
Following via Bill Oram’s end of season column for The Athletic:
Walton had reason to be concerned. At one point during the season, the Lakers reached out to former Nets and Bucks coach Jason Kidd to gauge his interest in coaching the team, should the position become available, a source told Frank Isola of The Athletic. A high-ranking Lakers official disputes this claim.
Besides the general scumminess of going behind your head coach’s back to contact his replacements, this is just a stupid process for the Lakers. The fact that they think Jason Kidd, whose Bucks’ team has flourished to the top of the NBA standings immediately after firing him, would possibly not be interested in the Lakers’ job shows a fundamental lack of understanding in what they need for the hiring process. For his part, Kidd has been incredibly open to publicly campaigning for a job that is not yet open, if that tells you what kind of people the Lakers are drawn to.
Kidd should not be the top candidate (and odds are he won’t be hired if Vegas is to believe). But the Lakers definitely seem interested in James’ former Team USA teammate, for better or for worse.
Oram also reports that Lakers GM Rob Pelinka sat in on coaches’ meetings this season and meddled in how scouting reports should be presented to players while Magic Johnson was seen as an “absentee executive.” That lack of trust between the front office and the coaching staff, not to mention the players, was among the biggest reasons for the Lakers’ collapse this season.
It’s hard to see it improving even with a new hire.