Magic Johnson reportedly ‘admonished’ Luke Walton over slow start in meeting
The Los Angeles Lakers have not gotten off to the start they had hoped for when they signed LeBron James over the summer, and it sounds like president of basketball operations Magic Johnson is already losing his patience.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Dave McMenamin report that Johnson laid into head coach Luke Walton in a meeting on Tuesday after the Lakers lost consecutive road games to the San Antonio Spurs and Minnesota Timberwolves.
Johnson’s tone in the meeting was described as “aggressive,” and some within the organization say it was consistent with his “volatile management style” and the way he has handled Walton and the coaching staff. Lakers owner Jeanie Buss, who has been outspoken with her support of Walton, was made aware of the tense nature of the meeting.
The Lakers responded by grinding out a 114-113 home win over the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday, and those close to Walton said there was a major feeling of relief that the team did not take a three-game losing streak into a tough stretch that includes upcoming games against the Portland Trail Blazers and Toronto Raptors.
Expectations are obviously sky-high now that LeBron is a Laker, but the team’s 3-5 start should not come as a shock. James and his teammates also started slow when he joined the Miami Heat and returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Both teams eventually captured NBA titles.
Veterans have reportedly been frustrated with the way Walton is shuffling lineups, but his job hasn’t been easy with Lonzo Ball on a minutes restriction following offseason knee surgery and two players having served suspensions for for their roles in a brawl earlier this season.
While the meeting between Johnson and Walton may have been nothing more than frustration boiling over, there’s no question Walton deserves to be among a collection of NBA coaches who are considered on the hot seat. The pressure to win with LeBron is tremendous, and he could be the first to go if the Lakers can’t find ways to do that.