Luke Walton is most likely nearing the end of his tenure as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. As of this writing, their record stands at 30-36 and they sit in 11th place in the Western Conference standings. After having franchise icon Earvin “Magic” Johnson come back into the fold to run the organization alongside former agent turned general manager Rob Pelinka, not to mention the signing of superstar LeBron James, Laker Nation had visions of a very different outcome entering the 2018-19 season. However, the unfortunate reality is after 66 games, they have a total of 30 wins. This, along with the fact that Walton was a hire made by the previous regime does not bode well for his future with the franchise. Unfortunately for Walton, signs are pointing to his ouster at the close of the season.
Injuries have been a significant factor in this Lakers season. James missed 17 consecutive games after injuring his groin on Christmas Day and news just came out this past weekend of the team shutting down players Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball for the remainder of the season. Fans are in an uproar, as evidence by rapper/actor Snoop Dogg putting his seats up for “sale” for the unheard of price of $5. This is just one example of the outrage the organization is experiencing in lieu of this year’s dismal outcome. With making the playoffs being a pipedream, the biggest questions Magic and Pelinka will have to answer are: What will the roster look like going into next season and who will coach said roster next season? Someone is going to take the fall for the lack of wins and abundance of losses and that someone most likely, will be Luke Walton.
Fair or not, being fired seems to be the fate awaiting Walton. With the University of Arizona, Walton’s alma mater, likely looking to move on from embattled head coach Sean Miller, he could very well go “home” to be a savior of sorts for the Wildcat program or perhaps he chooses to stay in Los Angeles and take over the reins at UCLA. Having been rumored to be in contention for both jobs, the likelihood of Walton being unemployed very long would seem to be small. Whether he goes into the college ranks, as we have seen former NBA stars do with Patrick EwingGeorgetownetow and Chris Mullin at St. John’s, Walton looks to have his share of opportunities in both the NBA and NCAA.
For now, Luke Walton will go to bat with the squad he has at his disposal. There has been back and forth talk surrounding LeBron and whether or not he should be shut down for the rest of this season. Voices from both sides of the argument have been loud to be sure their opinions are heard. Whether James sits out the remaining games or not, postseason play will evade the Lakers for the sixth consecutive season, which, for an organization of the Lakers standing, this run of futility is unacceptable. Being second to only the Boston Celtics, with 16 NBA championships, the Lakers standard of excellence is high, not to mention the expectations of the front office as well as the fanbase. Johnson and Pelinka have some major decisions facing them regarding the future of the franchise, with the selection of the head coach being among the most important. While there is a head coach in place, it seems only a matter of time before the cold reality of Luke Walton’s tenure reaching an end. With 16 regular season game remaining, these are most likely Luke’s Last Days.