The Los Angeles Lakers are 2-1 since a fiery meeting between head coach Luke Walton and president of basketball operations Magic Johnson.
Magic Johnson squashed any speculation that head coach Luke Walton’s job was in jeopardy after the Lakers started the season 2-5. Johnson assured fans that Luke Walton will remain the head coach for the entire season. Since their meeting last week, the Lakers improved to 4-6.
LeBron James joined the Lakers in the offseason and Lakers fans got excited for the first time since Kobe Bryant retired in 2016.
Futures bettors dumped money into the Lakers winning the NBA title this season, but many prognosticators suggested it was an emotional wager and not an optimal one. The Lakers were still a young team and loaded with raw talent, but even with the addition of LeBron James would not transform the Lakers into immediate contenders overnight.
Even LeBron cautiously advised everyone, “It is going to take time.”
Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka implanted a multiyear plan to win an NBA title with the acquisition of LeBron as the launching point. However, after consecutive road losses last week, Magic Johnson’s patience had worn thin.
Heated Magic-Walton Meeting
When the Lakers lost 124-120 to the Minnesota Timberwolves, a team in turmoil because star player Jimmy Butler demanded a trade that has yet to be granted, Magic Johnson felt he had seen enough.
Magic called Luke Walton into his office for an unscheduled meeting only hours after returning to Southern California after the road trip to Minneapolis. According to the LA Times, “During their meeting, Johnson shouted and cursed at Walton. At one point he chided Walton for interrupting him. He wanted to see an offensive system that had yet to be implemented.”
The local media, national sports media, and social media speculated and released their own hot takes on the Johnson-Walton meeting.
“I said it, Luke took it and we’re all good. It’s no big deal,” Magic Johnson told the LA Times. “He’s going to finish the season. Unless something drastic happens, which it won’t.”
LeBron James did not read anything extra into the meeting. “The coaching staff put us in a position to win,” said LeBron. “It’s up to us to go up and execute. Luke can care less about what’s going on outside; we could as well.”
Since the meeting, the Lakers are 2-1 with two consecutive wins over the Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trailblazers. The Blazers had beaten the Lakers 16 straight times dating back to 2014 before the Lakers finally ended their skid with a 114-110 victory on Saturday night.
Slow Start, Bad Defense
The Lakers got off to a slower start than everyone would have liked and the Lakers dropped their first three games of the season. A brawl with the Houston Rockets marred LeBron’s home debut in Los Angeles and Rondo Rajon and Brandon Ingram were suspended.
After seven games, the Lakers were 2-5. Although the Lakers boasted one of the highest-scoring offenses in the NBA, their defense was one of the worse in the league.
The Lakers average the second-most points in the Western Conference at 118.9 ppg, but they allow 120.1 ppg, or second-most in the West.
The Lakers were blown out on Sunday 121-107 by the Toronto Raptors on the second-day of back-to-back games.
The Raptors game held significance because of the Kawhi Leonard factor. Leonard did not even play and the Raptors still crushed the Lakers in a game that was more lopsided than the score indicated.
On Deck: Jimmy, Trae, and the Kings
With three winnable games on the schedule this week, the Lakers have an opportunity to move over .500.
On Wednesday night in LA, the Lakers host Jimmy Butler and the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Lakers have back-to-back games this weekend including a quick trip up to Sacramento for a game against the upstart Kings on Saturday night. Then on Sunday, rookie sharpshooter Trae Young and Atlanta Hawks fly into Hollywood.