The inevitable has finally become the actual for Luke Walton.
The former Arizona Wildcats standout saw this three-year tenure as coach of the Los Angeles Lakers come to an end on Friday, with the team releasing a statement that the parties “mutually agreed to part ways.”
The Los Angeles Lakers and Luke Walton have mutually agreed to part ways.— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) April 12, 2019
"We would like to thank Luke for his dedicated service over the last three years," said General Manager Rob Pelinka. "We wish Luke and his family the best of luck moving forward."https://t.co/3cgU3WPgnJ
Walton, 39, went 98-148 in his three years with the Lakers, one of the worst stretches in franchise history, and the arrival of LeBron James this past season only resulted in a two-win improvement from 2017-18.
His departure comes three days after the shocking resignation of Magic Johnson as president of basketball operations. In his impromptu press conference Tuesday to announce his departure, Johnson indicated he had planned to fire Walton immediately after the season.
Want to thank Luke and the rest of the coaching staff for allowing me to be me from day 1 they say opportunity is everything in the league and they gave me that right from the jump. https://t.co/CcvHJRr7TH— kuz (@kylekuzma) April 12, 2019
Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr, another ex-Arizona star, didn’t mince words with his reaction to the firing of his former assistant from 2014-16:
Kerr on Luke Walton getting fired. “They’re losing one of the best human beings in the NBA.”— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) April 12, 2019
Walton’s parting comes as no surprise, nor does the fact he’s already getting linked to other NBA coaching openings:
As expected, source tells @TheAthletic that Kings GM Vlade Divac will now reach out to Luke Walton to schedule an interview now that his Lakers days are done. As I reported yesterday, Walton is Divac's first choice for this job.— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) April 12, 2019
Walton has also had his named linked to the still-not-open-and-probably-won’t-be-for-a-while job at his alma mater. He played at Arizona from 1999-2003, averaging 9.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.5 assists in 129 games.