Stan Van Gundy: Lakers Should Keep Luke Walton as HC; Talks Jason Kidd Rumors

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMarch 28, 2019

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton directs his team during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz Wednesday, March 27, 2019, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

Former Detroit Pistons and Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy is sticking up for Luke Walton.

"Luke's done a great job and should remain their coach," Van Gundy told TMZ Sports on Thursday. "Whether he will or not, I don't know. I don't make those decisions. But I think he should."

Walton's job status is on shaky ground with the Lakers sitting at 33-42 and eliminated from the playoffs in LeBron James' first season in Los Angeles. Many of the issues have been related to roster construction and injuries, but it's fair to say Walton hasn't done a great job of maximizing the talent. 

There have been rumors the Lakers would pursue Jason Kidd should they part with Walton—a notion the Hall of Famer did nothing to dispel during an appearance on ESPN's The Jump.

"I think when you look at the Lakers as a whole, it's a franchise that is one of the best in the world—not just in the NBA, but in the world," Kidd said. "And so, if you ever have the opportunity to wear the purple and gold, you can't turn that down—as a coach, as a player—because they're all about championships."

When asked by TMZ whether Kidd crossed the line by openly discussing an occupied job, Van Gundy said, "Everybody approaches it their own way. That's all I'm gonna say."

Kidd, 46, went 183-190 in four-plus seasons as an NBA coach with the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks. He made the playoffs three times as a head coach but was a polarizing figure. The Bucks fired Kidd in part last season because they felt he was no longer reaching the young roster.

"Did I think I lost the locker room? I didn't think I did," Kidd told B/R's Howard Beck in March 2018. "My style? My voice was only heard when it needed to be heard. I let the other coaches do as much talking as I did, because I knew as a player, if you hear one voice, you can lose the locker room."

Van Gundy was complimentary of Kidd's coaching acumen. 

"Jason's been a coach for a while and done a good job. ... I've coached against Jason for a few years. ... He is a good coach," he said.

Walton is a favorite of Lakers owner Jeanie Buss but predates the arrival of president Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka. Hiring Kidd would follow a pattern for Johnson, who has been attracted to starry names over arguably better solutions during his time running the organization. Johnson's signings of Rajon Rondo, Michael Beasley, Lance Stephenson and JaVale McGee made headlines but ignored roster fit while allowing talented players like Julius Randle and Brook Lopez to walk.