Los Angeles Lakers president of operations Magic Johnson has pledged that the team will not fire Luke Walton this season. Afterwards, though, oddsmakers believe Walton will be shown the door.
BetOnline believes Jason Kidd will be the new leader of the LeBron James led Lakers. He is installed at 3/1. One coach that James has worked with, Ty Lue, is next at 7/2. Walton is listed third at 4/1.
The third-year coach has been pestered with rumors about his firing, but said late last year that he doesn’t worry about it.
“I don’t think about it,” Walton told reporters. I focus on what is important and what’s important tour team is getting better.”
The Lakers enter the All-Star break four games out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. If the team can get to the eighth spot, it would be the first time since 2005, his second year in the NBA.
It has been a trying time for James. He came to Los Angeles in the offseason as free agent, and immediately pledged he would take the Lakers back to the playoffs and challenge for the NBA Title.
He was hurt, however, suffering his longest time on the sidelines as a professional. He injured his groin in the December 25 game against the Golden State Warriors and went on to miss 17 games.
While he was not in the lineup the team floundered. They started with a 4-7 record, including losses to Eastern Conference doormats, the New York Knicks and James’ old team, the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Again rumors persisted that Walton’s job was on the line after the two embarrassing losses. The following contest against the Chicago Bulls, the team won, and many thought it saved Walton’s job.
Trade Talk Turns Testy
The Lakers know they need more quality players around James, and over the last month tried to get New Orleans Pelicans’ star Anthony Davis. Reportedly the team offered Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and Ivica Zubac, as well as veteran guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. In addition, two draft picks were thrown in as part of the proposed deal.
When the deal fell apart and the trade deadline came and went, the young players that were rumored to be getting dealt were forced to play for a team that was willing to send them off to New Orleans.
Ball’s outspoken father, LaVar criticized the Lakers for how they handled the possible trade. He then went on to say that his son was better than James.
Davis shied away from the trade controversy, but has slammed his own team, saying during one loss, “That no one looked like they wanted to play.”
Which makes one wonder would Kidd or Lue even want the job if it was offered to them. Lue lost his job with the Cavs in September after an 0-6 start. He is currently an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Clippers. Kidd was fired as the Bucks coach last year.