Photo Credit: CBS Sports
The Los Angeles Lakers have now fallen under .500 after failing to pull off the Anthony Davis blockbuster trade. They sit at 10th place in the Western Conference standings behind the tanking other LA team in the Clippers and the young hot Sacramento Kings. It should be noted that the Clippers, even though they are most likely going to regress after trading Tobias Harris, and the Kings have a much easier schedule than the Lakers. The Lakers remaining strength of schedule is ranked 9th, while the Kings ranks 18th and Clippers 25th. That is not favorable for the Lakers. If the Lakers were to make the playoffs, there is a good chance they would be paired with the Golden State Warriors. LeBron James would essentially be pummeled for the 3rd year in a row by the Warriors. It isn’t impossible that the Lakers go on a crazy win streak as other teams start to lose, but it is very unlikely. Basketball Reference’s playoff probabilities have the Lakers’ chances at 6 percent.
The team has been plagued by injury which is not controllable, but the failed trade was detrimental. The Lakers’ young players and some veterans have dealt with soul-breaking heckling from fans around the country. Chants like “LeBron is gonna trade you” and “you aren’t good enough to be traded” have been some of the fan favorites among the league. This has clearly taken a toll on the team chemistry and spirit of this roster.
That brings us to the head coach. As it may not be deserving, it seems that Luke Walton is about to be scapegoated pretty badly, whether the Lakers make or miss the playoffs. This feels like another classic LeBron getting a coach fired story. It may not be entirely because of LeBron, but the level of respect seems to be low between the coaching staff and the players. People forget that Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka, the new Lakers regime, didn’t hire Walton. Walton is Jeanie Buss’ guy. Magic and Pelinka don’t owe him anything. It’s unfortunate because Walton won an absurd amount of games with arguably the best team ever during his time in Golden State. While that is great, what else has he really done? The Lakers are 3-8 out of their last 11 and haven’t won more than 35 games in a season under him as the head coach. They have LeBron and are struggling against lottery teams like the Atlanta Hawks. Yikes.
HoopsHype provided this information from Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective: “Jackie Macmullan of ESPN said that James’ camp has made it no secret that they want a new head coach for the Lakers, and Windhorst — always plugged into everything on James — said her wording was fair.”
Whether the Lakers’ woes are from injuries, LeBron drama, LaVar Ball stirring the pot, or poor talent acquisition by management, it seems that Walton is going to get the short stick in this situation. LaVar called Walton “the worst coach ever for Lonzo.” Don’t be surprised if the Lakers have a new head coach going into the 2019-2020 season. If things get really ugly, a new face could be the head coach before the season ends. Names like Jason Kidd and Mark Jackson have been tossed around.