Lakers Head Coach Rumors: Rob Pelinka to Run Search for Luke Walton Replacement

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistApril 12, 2019

FILE - In this July 11, 2018, file photo, Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka speaks at a news conference at the NBA basketball team's headquarters in El Segundo, Calif. The  Lakers say they have mutually agreed to part ways with coach Luke Walton after three losing seasons. Pelinka announced Walton's departure Friday, April 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)
Reed Saxon/Associated Press

As the Los Angeles Lakers have undergone major changes in personnel this week, it appears general manager Rob Pelinka will be helping the team move forward. 

After Los Angeles and now-former coach Luke Walton mutually decided to part ways on Friday, ESPN's Ramona Shelburne reported Pelinka will conduct the Lakers' head-coaching search.

"We would like to thank Luke for his dedicated service over the last three years," Pelinka said of Walton in a statement. "We wish Luke and his family the best of luck moving forward."

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue is a "strong front-runner" for the job. Wojnarowski added that former New Orleans Pelicans head coach and current Philadelphia 76ers assistant Monty Williams is also expected to be a top candidate.

This will mark the first time in Pelinka's time as Lakers general manager that he will have the opportunity to choose a head coach. When Pelinka was hired in March 2017, Walton was in his first year on the job. Walton had been hired by Pelinka's predecessor, Mitch Kupchak.

Walton went 98-148 in three seasons as head coach for Los Angeles. While the team's win total increased with each passing season, it failed to make the postseason during the coach's tenure, even after the signing of four-time MVP LeBron James last offseason.

Now, it will be up to Pelinka to try to right the ship.

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As a disappointing 37-45 performance, highlighted by the Anthony Davis trade deadline fiasco, came to an end, there were questions as to whether Pelinka would remain in the front office. ESPN's Stephen A. Smith reported on First Take earlier this week that now-former team president Magic Johnson wanted to fire Pelinka. 

As Pelinka kept his job, Johnson decided to step down on Tuesday. While Johnson initially declined to say if he felt Pelinka should remain the team's general manager, he tweeted on Friday that he "enjoyed working" with Pelinka and "had a great working relationship" with him.