Lakers head coach Luke Walton spoke to The USA Today’s Sam Amick, and the current state of the Lakers front office was discussed. Walton was hired by Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak, then president of basketball operations and general manager respectively. Since his hiring in 2016, Buss and Kupchak have been fired and the balance of power now sits with Jeanie Buss and Magic Johnson.
When the people who brought you in are no longer with the organization, job security becomes a high priority. In speaking with Amick, Walton said:
Honestly, it wasn’t ever clear to me (that Jim and Kupchak would be on their way out) because when I interviewed that was one of the questions I asked, was ‘Are we going to be in this together?’ And they said ‘Yeah,’ so I was under the assumption that (it was) Jimmy and Mitch. So I wasn’t worried about this or that. I was expecting that that was the front office, the whole time I was going to be here, at least for a while, so there wasn’t any uncertainty with me.
But of course Luke knows it’s the NBA and things can change at a moment’s notice. Having played 10 seasons in the league and growing up around it, as the son of former NBA great Bill Walton, Luke knows it’s all about adjustments and handling what you can control. He continued:
This is an incredible opportunity. We get the opportunity to try and rebuild and get the Lakers back on top, (and) yeah I get really frustrated with losing. It’s tough to sleep at night, but by the time I wake up in the morning, I’m normally very positive and excited driving into work about what we get to do for the day. That’s kind of the approach I take going into it.
By all accounts Magic and Jeanie are letting Luke handle the coaching and not interfering. There appears to be very open communication between Luke and Jeanie, which was lacking with his predecessors.
Luke is a smart guy and a talented young coach. He appears to have the right kind of temperament to handle the cauldron that is the Los Angeles Lakers. The key for him and job security is winning. It’s not rocket science. The development of Russell, Randle, Ingram and Clarkson will play a huge factor in winning as well as the moves made by Magic and eventually Rob Pelinka. If all those factors mesh, Luke will be the Lakers coach for as long as he wants. If one of those things falters, the Lakers will continue to be mired in losing and Luke will be the next person let go.