It’s plain and simple, Luke Walton should be fired as the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers by the end of the All-Star break.
You’re probably saying right now, “but Jared, you’re the one that was pleading Laker fans to give Walton more time to adjust to the team that he now has.” Well, time is up! The Lakers are entering the All-Star weekend with a record below .500 (28 wins and 29 losses) after an unexplainable loss against the struggling Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night, 117-113. All players and staff share responsibility in these dismal results however, the coach is ultimately responsible for leading, guiding and strengthening a winning mentality within his team. He’s the coach! The Laker organization has little to no time to waste, with a record of 61 wins and 103 losses over the last two years under Luke Walton.
Creating an argument for Luke Walton to stay as a head coach of the Lakers is almost impossible. When Walton stepped in for Steve Kerr who had to be sidelined due to his health, the team was already set up in a way that they knew how to play efficiently with one another. Kerr had been coaching the team already in the previous season, so when he wasn’t with the team physically, the players understood what type of game they were to play. Walton as a head coach hasn’t had any success. You could say that he didn’t have the personnel to compete, but now he does and yet, he isn’t showing any growth in coaching.
Against the Hawks, it was seen as a must win game for the Lakers as James played 44 minutes in the game (there are 48 minutes in a game without overtime). Walton having his top player in the game for that amount of time set the tone that this game needed to end with the Lakers on top. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen; the Lakers got the Hawks big men in the paint into foul trouble, but yet, Walton didn’t make an adjustment and stuck to his game plan pre-game. If Walton had attacked the paint area while there were no centers in, the Lakers could’ve been about .500 won the season.
In addition, Walton has lost matchups which can’t be explained. For example, a home game to the New York Knicks and Cleveland Cavaliers both resulted in a loss; even though LeBron James was sidelined, that’s still no reason to lose this matchup. The franchises that Los Angeles has lost to, are all competing for the first overall pick in the draft; so there’s no reason as to why Walton should lose to a team who’s tanking in a season. Then after barely surviving the Boston Celtics, the team had to play against another top opponent in the Eastern Conference, Philadelphia 76ers. The Lakers cut down the lead to four in the third quarter, and yet, Walton decide to rest his three best players in James, Brandon Ingram, and Kyle Kuzma. Any coach could realize that when a game has the tension to a playoff matchup, don’t sit your three best players all at once; one of those three should be on the court at all times because each can create offense with whoever is right beside hem.
The Lakers are currently out of the playoff race as or right now while being behind the Sacramento Kings and the Los Angeles Clippers. The Kings are a good up and coming team; the organization has young stars in Marvin Bagley III, Buddy Hield, and De’Aaron Fox. That team has gelled together that if they add an absolute superstar, they would be in the talks of giving the Western Conference troubles in the near future. The Clippers on the other hand have given up on their season by letting the league know they are pursuing a top draft pick as well by trading their top player of the team Tobias Harris, to the Philadelphia 76ers. The two teams who are currently in front of the Lakers can fall, but Los Angeles wouldn’t be able to climb the ladder unless the organization gets rid of Walton.
The Lakers have not made the playoffs since 2013 and if Walton is still the head coach for the remainder of the season, that streak may continue. Answer this: what loss would it be to the team if the Los Angeles were to fire Luke Walton?