Last week, LaVar Ball spit his hardest criticisms of Lakers head coach Luke Walton yet in an interview with ESPN, saying “You can see they’re not playing for Luke no more,” according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman. “Luke doesn’t have control of the team no more. They don’t want to play for him.”
That triggered a lengthy list of colleagues and players to speak up in defense of Walton. Conspicuously, that list didn’t include a single person from Lakers management.
In an appearance on the Rich Eisen Show, ESPN reporter Brian Windhorst opened up about the behind the scenes on the latest gossip in the NBA, revealing that many believe the Lakers don’t support Walton as head coach.
“Whatever you want to say about LaVar Ball, he has smoked out the fact that the Lakers do not support Luke Walton,” Windhorst said.
“That is now crystal clear. There are now guys out there wondering openly to me, executives, coaching agents, wondering who the Lakers are going to hire as their next coach. That has been revealed here, that they do not have unconditional support for Luke.”
Does this mean Luke Walton is definitely out?
Doubtful, but who knows.
The Lakers are in the middle of a three-game winning streak, and L.A. appears to have missed a clear window to kick Walton to the curb — for now. Electing to relieve the head coach of his job would also be a crippling PR hit that would give the appearance that LaVar Ball runs the show.
But this is the Lakers, whose drama is only paralleled by that of the Knicks.
Anything is possible.
Why would the Lakers fire Walton? It’s not his fault his team is young
Correct. Walton’s team isn’t supposed to be winning right now, especially with its most promising three players age 22 or younger. Brandon Ingram is having a breakout sophomore year campaign, Lonzo Ball has had his ups and downs, and Kyle Kuzma should finish an All-Rookie team member, but all three need time to develop. There’s no clear basketball reason to fire to Walton now.
But politically, there’s another motive, and L.A. has to be all in on LeBron James this summer.
While Walton doesn’t bear any weight in getting James or losing him, there’s someone else on the market who does.
Windhorst suggests that ex-Grizzlies coach David Fizdale could take Walton’s job
“I have agents saying in my ear that they’re going to hire David Fizdale,” Windhorst said on the Rich Eisen show.
Fizdale pushed a lackluster Grizzlies team into a playoff fight with the Spurs last season, gaining name recognition across the league with his “Take that for data” rant. He was shockingly fired early on this season though, and his respect among players became apparent on Twitter once the news was made public.
James was among them, as he had played under assistant coach Fizdale in Miami. Maybe, just maybe, the idea of a reunion in L.A. could draw interest from The King.
I need some answers. Feels like my man was a fall guy
— LeBron James (@KingJames) November 27, 2017
It’s early still, but it’s clear that things aren’t OK between Luke Walton and the Lakers organization. The Lakers coach could be on the hot seat for real.