ESPN senior writer Jackie MacMullan joined the Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective podcast on Friday and speculated that Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James' camp "would prefer a coaching change" away from L.A. head coach Luke Walton.
"It's clear to me, and probably to you, Brian, that LeBron's camp would prefer a coaching change—they're not too subtle about that," MacMullan said per transcribed remarks from Score NBA news editor Chicco Nacion.
"Not LeBron, but all the people around LeBron. There's plenty of them and they've made it known. I don't think this is a shock, is it?"
The 25-24 Lakers are currently on the outside looking into the Western Conference playoff picture in ninth place.
They beat the Golden State Warriors 127-101 in a Christmas Day road battle, but James suffered an injured groin.
In fairness to Walton, the team looked like it had turned a page during that Warriors game, and the Lakers are also mostly solid on defense as evidenced by their ninth-place mark in efficiency on that end. L.A. has also been without backup point guard Rajon Rondo for 34 games as he suffered various injuries.
On the flip side, it's still surprising to see a team marked as a strong playoff contenderbefore the season just one game over .500 with the All-Star break approaching, which could naturally lead to some internal issues. MacMullan spoke about some reported problems on the podcast:
"There's a lot of tension in that building. I think people are wondering about Luke Walton, even though (owner and president) Jeanie Buss came out very strongly and said, 'I want Luke to be here, I back him 100 percent,' but then also made the point that has to be made—and that is that she hired Earvin 'Magic' Johnson to make these decisions."
Although the Lakers are struggling, help may be on the horizon. Walton mentioned to Mike Trudell and others on Thursday that James had not yet been ruled out for Sunday's game with the Phoenix Suns. Trudell also said James has been doing some drills as of Wednesday.
While that doesn't mean James will suit up this weekend, that glimmer of hope seems to be a good sign for his return in the near future.