Lakers News: Luke Walton Has 'No Anxiety' About Future Amid Job Security Rumors

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorApril 10, 2019

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 07: Lakers coach Luke Walton looks on during a basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Utah Jazz at Staples Center on April 07, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)
Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton told Dave McMenamin of ESPN that he has "no anxiety" regarding his future with the franchise:

Dave McMenamin @mcten

Luke Walton asked before Game 82 if he has any anxiety about his future with the Lakers: “No. No anxiety. ... But call me later tonight and maybe that answer will be different”

The Lakers have gone 98-147 in Walton's three seasons, missing the playoffs each year. The 39-year-old previously led the Golden State Warriors to a 39-4 record as their interim head coach in place of Steve Kerr, who took a leave of absence to recover from back issues. 

On Tuesday, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN reported on The Jump that Walton and Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson "haven't spoken in weeks."

However, Johnson told reporters Tuesday evening that he has stepped down from his post.

Per Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times, Johnson "strongly" hinted a head-coaching change would have been imminent if he was still in charge after the season:

Tania Ganguli @taniaganguli

Magic Johnson steps down as Lakers president. He hasn’t said it outright but is hinting strongly that he planned to fire Luke Walton and that won’t happen now. He is getting emotional and hasn’t told Jeanie yet he says.

According to Bill Oram of The Athletic, Johnson said his call to step down was not related to a call on Walton's future:

Bill Oram @billoram

Magic said this decision was not about the decision with Luke Walton, but has now said it made him uncomfortable to be in a position between Jeanie and Luke.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that the "Lakers coaching staff fully expected to be fired in hours after the final game of the season."

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

Lakers coaching staff fully expected to be fired in hours after the final game of the season. They had believed they were gone for months. Now? Magic quits in public, saying he's too scared to tell Jeanie Buss face-to-face. What an embarrassing episode for a historic franchise.

Now it's unclear what the future holds for this team, especially considering that Johnson told reporters that he hadn't informed Lakers owner Jeanie Buss of his decision before holding the press conference:

Bill Oram @billoram

Stunning. Magic says he has not told Jeanie his decision. “Somebody’s going to have to tell my boss because I knew I couldn’t be face-to-face and tell her. ... I couldn’t stand to tell her.” Says what she had in him was someone she could trust and be loyal.

If reports are accurate, however, then Johnson stepping down is a good thing for Walton's future in Los Angeles. At the least, he can lay claim that many of the issues that hindered the Lakers' progress this season were not his fault, a point made by Rachel Nichols of ESPN on The Jump Tuesday:

Rachel Nichols @Rachel__Nichols

I opened #TheJump noting how so many of the Lakers' issues have zero to do with Luke Walton, so whether they fire him or not, they can't expect change until they face their deeper truths. Then @RamonaShelburne reported Magic hasn't spoken to Luke in weeks, and everyone went nuts: https://t.co/fDgJaIKs3C

Los Angeles will finish its sixth straight losing season after it hosts the Blazers.


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