Rajon Rondo was so into coaching the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night that Luke Walton had to tell him to zip it.
Rondo is out 4-5 weeks recovering from surgery to repair a broken hand. While he’s out, he’s tried to stay involved with the team by acting as if he’s a coach. He was holding a clipboard, huddling with the coaches during timeouts, and standing up during the game.
The Lakers’ real coach, Walton, only allowed Rondo to be part of the coaches’ huddles if he kept quiet. Rondo confirmed that, saying he was told to shut up.
Asked Luke Walton about Rondo being with the coaches tonight. He said Rajon talked too much, had to tell him if he wanted to stay in the huddles, he had to be quiet
Rondo: “yeah he told me to shut the *** up”
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) November 19, 2018
At least Rondo didn’t throw any towels at the coaches.
Rondo has always seemed like a heady player, so it’s no surprise he’d want to be involved with the team in a coaching capacity. Perhaps this is a prelude to what’s to come after he retires.
Magic Johnson has spoken, and he’s given assurances regarding Luke Walton.
Johnson spoke with three Los Angeles Times reporters about the status of Walton, who is in his third season as the Los Angeles Lakers’ head coach. Johnson told the LA Times reporters that Walton will finish the season as the team’s head coach, though he did give a caveat, leaving the door open for a firing if things go haywire.
— Bill Plaschke (@BillPlaschke) November 5, 2018
The talk about Walton’s job status came up after a report said Johnson laid into Walton during a meeting. Johnson says he and Walton are “all good” despite the meeting.
In a conversation with me, @BA_Turner and @BillPlaschke, Magic Johnson said his contentious meeting with Luke Walton had no bearing on Walton’s job security. “I said it, Luke took it and we’re all good,” Johnson said. Johnson assured us Walton will finish the year.
— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) November 5, 2018
This seems to mesh with a report from Friday that said ownership still supports Walton and that the coach’s job is not in danger.
The Lakers enter their game on Sunday night 4-5 having won two in a row.
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LeBron James is ignoring all the speculation about Luke Walton’s future, and the Lakers star thinks the coach is, too.
James didn’t really bite on a question about whether it felt good to win Saturday night’s game for his embattled coach, noting that Walton ignores the noise coming from outside and the coaches put the team in position to win if they can execute.
LeBron James was asked if it felt good to win this one for Luke Walton after the week he’s had. pic.twitter.com/RITp7kg93Y
— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) November 4, 2018
It’s not quite a vote of confidence, but it’s something. James has a sort of reputation as a coach-killer, so all eyes will turn to him with Walton’s seat heating up a bit. It doesn’t sound like he has any real problems with his coach at the moment, or it may simply be that he’s happy to let Magic Johnson handle the tough talk behind closed doors.
Los Angeles Lakers president Magic Johnson may not be thrilled with how Luke Walton has the team playing, but his job apparently is not on the line yet.
According to Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times, it is true that Johnson angrily met with his coach after a winless two-game road trip, but ownership is firmly behind Walton and Johnson is not close to firing him.
Magic Johnson was angry in the meeting he had with Luke Walton (first reported by @wojespn and @mcten) but he doesn't make rash decisions. Several sources told me and @BA_Turner that Luke Walton's job is not in danger. Further, ownership still very much believes in him.
— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) November 2, 2018
Read like this, that angry meeting sounds like a warning shot from Johnson. For now, Walton appears secure. If the Lakers continue to lose, it’s reasonable that this could change very quickly, but for now, reports that Walton is essentially coaching for his job appear to be premature.
- Luke Walton
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.
The Los Angeles Lakers have played just three games in the LeBron James era, and head coach Luke Walton has already been fined for publicly bashing the officiating crew after one of them.
On Wednesday, the NBA announced that Walton has been fined $15,000 for remarks he made about the officiating crew following the Lakers’ 143-142 overtime loss to the San Antonio Spurs Monday. Walton knew the fine was coming, and he acknowledged that when he made the initial comments. He felt there were several missed calls in the game.
“I wasn’t going to say anything. I was going to save my money, but I just can’t anymore,” Walton said, per ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk. “It’s  points in the paint [by the Lakers] to 50, [and yet] again they outshoot us from the free throw line — 38 free throws [to 26 by the Lakers].”
Walton said there were several instances where LeBron and other players were hacked on their way to the rim and did not get a whistle. He said he wishes the league would try harder to “not reward people for flopping 30 feet from the hole” and instead pay closer attention to players who are being hit on the way to the basket.
The Lakers are off to a 0-3 start this season, and they are making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Between Walton’s fine and the ugly spitting situation between Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul, L.A. could really use a win to change things up.
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- Luke Walton
The NBA is a “get wins or get out” enterprise. The business can be callous at times, spurning head coaches who have seemingly earned job security — a lesson Dwane Casey learned the hard way in May. It’s still hard to imagine Casey on the Pistons’ sideline.
It may seem ridiculous to already be speculating about which coaches could be fired this season, but the 2018-19 season is practically upon us, and before we know it, some team will be searching for a new leader. With the preseason already underway, here are 10 coaches on the hot seat.
10. Alvin Gentry, Pelicans
You could argue Anthony Davis’ impressive late-season surge saved Gentry’s job last season. The Pelicans won their first playoff series in the Davis era — an encouraging sign — but the Warriors quickly vanquished New Orleans’ momentum. This seems to be a pivotal moment for the franchise. The Pelicans didn’t have much spending money this summer, as the squad had already dished out hefty contracts to players like E’Twaun Moore, Alexis Ajinca, and Omer Asik. The team allowed DeMarcus Cousins to bolt and signed bargain-basement assets Jahlil Okafor and Elfrid Payton, in addition to Julius Randle. The Pelicans are reliant on Davis sustaining MVP-level production; if he and Jrue Holiday crash back to earth early this season, however, GM Dell Demps — left with little flexibility to add another impact player — may opt to make a coaching change.