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Magic Johnson Says Luke Walton Wasn't a 'Championship Coach' with Lakers

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistOctober 25, 2019

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

The Los Angeles Lakers improved with each passing season in their three years under former coach Luke Walton, but ultimately, he was unable to lead the franchise to the postseason.

According to former Lakers president Magic Johnson, Walton wasn't the right fit for the organization:

UNDISPUTED @undisputed

"Luke Walton was not ready at that time...we were trying to win the Championship, and I don't think he was a championship coach." — @MagicJohnson https://t.co/P4GyRGK9d3

"Luke Walton was not ready at that time," Johnson said on Undisputed on Friday. "...We were trying to win the championship, and I don't think he was a championship coach."

When Walton was hired in 2016, he was expected to develop a roster filled with young talent. By the end of his tenure, though, there were championship expectations following the signing of four-time NBA MVP LeBron James.

Johnson was hired midway through Walton's tenure in February 2017 and subsequently spent two-plus years as team president. He played a role in landing James in July 2018.

Walton went 98-148 in three seasons in L.A., topping out at 37 wins in his final year on the job in 2018-19. Johnson made a push within the organization to fire Walton at the end of last season, but he was never given the full go-ahead to do so.

Johnson told ESPN's First Take in May that his inability to make a coaching change was the "final straw" that caused him to step down from his post on April 9:

Walton and the Lakers mutually parted ways on April 12, with Los Angeles hiring former Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic coach Frank Vogel. Walton was later hired by the Sacramento Kings.

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