Luke Walton's job security came into question Friday after ESPN.com's Adrian Wojnarowski and Dave McMenamin reported that Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson "admonished" the head coach Tuesday for the team's "sluggish" start to the 2018-19 season.
However, Walton isn't too worried about losing his job:
"I don't feel like I am going anywhere," Walton told reporters Friday.
Los Angeles hasn't made the playoffs since 2012-13 and missed the last two postseasons under Walton's command. While those two campaigns were part of a full rebuild that saw the team try to acquire and develop young talent, expectations skyrocketed this season after the signing of four-time NBA MVP LeBron James.
Adding one of the greatest players in league history has been a quick fix. The Lakers are 3-5, which puts them at 12th in the Western Conference. Despite a disappointing record, they have been competitive in every contest, losing three games by four points or fewer.
It's too early into an 82-game season to panic and make drastic changes to a team that has playoff aspirations. At the same time, Walton understands the Lakers need to make progress.
"Winning is nice, but getting better is what we're trying to do," Walton added.
The Lakers have gone 26-56 and 35-47 the past two seasons under Walton. While those young cores showed growth, adding the likes of James, Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson and JaVale McGee means it's time for the franchise to take the next step.
Johnson became president in February 2017 and was not part of the regime that hired Walton. Neither was general manager Rob Pelinka. Walton stressed Friday that he has a "great relationship with management," but for an organization with 16 championships, results matter more than relationships.
Walton will need to get his team playing winning basketball soon or risk becoming unemployed.