Lakers News: Magic Johnson Says Luke Walton's Job Is Safe After Tense Meeting

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistNovember 5, 2018

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 10:  Head coach Luke Walton of the Los Angeles Lakers talks with Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations Earvin 'Magic' Johnson during the 2018 NBA Summer League at the Thomas & Mack Center on July 10, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Lakers defeated the Knicks 109-92. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images)
Sam Wasson/Getty Images

Los Angeles Lakers president Magic Johnson reportedly "admonished" head coach Luke Walton over the team's poor start to the season in a meeting this past week, according to Adrian Wojnarowski and Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com, though Johnson confirmed Sunday that Walton's job wasn't in jeopardy.

"I said it, Luke took it and we're all good," Johnson said of the heated meeting in a conversation with Tania Ganguli, Bill Plaschke and Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times, per Ganguli, adding that Walton would finish the season as the team's head coach.

"He is going to finish the season, unless something drastic happens, which it won't," Johnson said, per Plaschke.

In ESPN's report earlier in the week, Walton's job security appeared to be at risk, and "Johnson's cutting appraisal elevated an already acute awareness within the Lakers coaching staff that there are intense and immediate pressures on Walton to deliver the franchise a winner in short order."

That meeting and Johnson's "aggressive" tone while speaking to Walton reportedly "circulated to individuals throughout the organization, including to principal owner Jeanie Buss."

The Lakers have opened the season 4-5, though they have won the past two games following the contentious meeting. And the team's superstar, LeBron James, has remained supportive of his head coach.

"I mean, it's great to win, period," he said after Saturday's 114-110 win over the Portland Trail Blazers, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com. "Listen, coaching staff put us in a position to win, and it's up to us to go up and execute."

"Luke can care less about what's going on outside," he continued. "We could as well. I'm the last person to ask about scrutiny or anything of that nature. So none of that stuff matters to me. The only thing that matters to me is what goes on inside this locker room, both home and away."

Walton's task in Los Angeles hasn't been easy, trying to develop the team's young, up-and-coming players (Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart) while incorporating an influx of veterans (James, Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee and Michael Beasley). It was always questionable how that odd group would jell, given the lack of quality shooters surrounding James.

Nonetheless, Johnson's expectations are clearly high for the Lakers, even in year one of the James era. And Walton will be given at least the rest of the season, barring something "drastic," to meet them.


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