In what could have been considered a ‘must-win’ game, the Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Atlanta Hawks to conclude their six-game road trip, 117-113.
LeBron James finished the game with a triple-double — 28 points, 11 rebounds, and 16 assists. However, James’ performance was not enough and now the Lakers head into the All-Star Weekend one game under .500 and 10th in the Western Conference.
Head coach Luke Walton has been heavily scrutinized throughout the 2018-2019 NBA season as Los Angeles has seen more than their fair share of ups and downs. The loss to the Hawks was one of those performances that could give president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka enough justification to let go of Walton.
However, it appears Walton is safe for the remainder of his third season, according to Broderick Turner of Los Angeles Times:
Walton “will definitely finish the season” and has the full support of the Lakers’ front office, one person said.
Lakers owner Jeanie Buss, president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka are all on the same page regarding Walton being the coach for the rest of the season, the people said.
Walton has been on the hot seat seemingly since the beginning of the season when it was reported that he and Johnson had an intense meeting regarding the team’s performance and identity. Even with president Jeanie Buss’ public backing of him, it has not stopped these type of reports.
However, this latest update is encouraging given that a head coaching change midseason would be too drastic of a move and would only add more drama. Injuries to the roster and malaise after the trade deadline may be the main culprits for the team’s struggles, so Walton should have a chance to turn it around.
While it looks like Walton will finish out the season, his future with the Lakers may very well depend on the final 25 games.