The Los Angeles Lakers are under .500 entering the All-Star break, but head coach Luke Walton is not in jeopardy of losing his job.
At least not yet.
The former Arizona Wildcat will “definitely finish the season” and has full support of the organization’s front office, a person close to the team told Brad Turner of the LA Times.
“Nothing is going to happen with Luke,” a person said. “There hasn’t even been any talk about it and there won’t be any talks about it. Luke will definitely finish the season and he has the full support. So any talk in the media or on social media can be put to bed about Luke. He’s not going anywhere. There has been no conversation about it.”
If there is ever a good time to make a coaching change, it is the All-Star break, which is why speculation about Walton’s future ramped up considerably Tuesday night after the Lakers lost to the lowly Atlanta Hawks to drop to 28-29.
The Lakers have not played nearly as well as people expected them to after they signed LeBron James in free agency, though injuries have certainly been a reason for that.
James missed 17 games with a groin injury, Rajon Rondo has missed dozens of games with two different injuries, and Lonzo Ball (ankle) and Josh Hart (knee) are currently out as well.
The Lakers are 3-7 in their last 10 games and currently sit in 10th in the Western Conference, 2.5 games out of the No. 8 seed. They were the No. 4 seed before James’ injury.
The Lakers are hoping to regroup and make a playoff push once the All-Star break concludes, but if they don’t, speculation about Walton’s future will surely heat up again. The 38-year-old has drawn criticism for his rotations and lack of creativity on offense, where the Lakers rank 21st in the NBA.
This is an interesting situation for Arizona fans. On one hand, no one wants to see a former Wildcat fail. On the other hand, if Sean Miller is ousted because of all the turmoil surrounding the UA program, Walton would immediately become a top candidate to replace him if he is on the market and interested in coaching at the collegiate level.
The thought of Walton coming home to lead the UA program —and possibly bring assistant Miles Simon with him — has to be appealing for Arizona fans.