The Los Angeles Lakers offseason drama continues as Luke Walton is officially out as their head coach. In an announcement Friday afternoon, the storied NBA franchise said it was a mutual decision between the team and Walton.
“We would like to thank Luke for his dedicated service over the last three years,” said Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka. “We wish Luke and his family the best of luck moving forward.”
The former Lakers forward went 98-148 in his first permanent head coaching job. A former assistant with Golden State, he never led Los Angeles to the playoffs, even with the arrival of LeBron James last summer.
“I want to thank Jeanie Buss and the Buss family for giving me the opportunity to coach the Lakers,” said Walton. “This franchise and the city will always be special to me and my family.”
Walton leaves three days after the Lakers ended their 37-45 season with the abrupt resignation of the president of basketball operations Magic Johnson.
According to The Athletic’s Sam Amick, Walton might not be out of a job for long. Sacramento Kings GM Vlade Divac, who just fired his team’s head coach Dave Joerger on Thursday, has Walton as his first-choice for replacement. Per the New York Times’ Marc Stein, he’s already reached out for an interview.
As expected, source tells @TheAthletic that Kings GM Vlade Divac will now reach out to Luke Walton to schedule an interview now that his Lakers days are done. As I reported yesterday, Walton is Divac's first choice for this job.
— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) April 12, 2019
The Kings have formally requested an interview with Luke Walton, as @sam_amick just tweeted, and also intend to request permission from the Spurs to interview San Antonio assistant coach Ettore Messina, according to league sources
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) April 12, 2019
As for the Lakers, the search for a new head coach is well underway. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue is considered a “strong front runner” for the Lakers’ open job.
Ty Lue is a strong frontrunner for the Lakers coaching job, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 12, 2019
It will be vital for the Lakers to hire a coach that James both approves of and can coexist with.