LeBron James reportedly wants a new head coach in Los Angeles. According to Jackie MacMullan, the people around James would like head coach Luke Walton gone.
In an appearance on fellow NBA journalist Brian Windhorst’s podcast Friday, MacMullan said that James’ team has made it known that they would “prefer a coaching change” for the Lakers.
“LeBron’s camp would prefer a coaching change, they’re not too subtle about that,” MacMullan said. “There’s plenty of them and they’ve made it known; Not LeBron, but the people around LeBron.”
While the reports come from people “around LeBron,” we can only assume where there is smoke, there is fire. James hasn’t played with the team since injuring his groin on Christmas Day against Golden State. In that span, they have gone 5-10, and are outside the playoff picture in the Western Conference. It shouldn’t be too surprising to hear the news that James and his inner circle are getting frustrated.
If there is anything fans know about James, especially from his second stint with the Cavs, is that he influences the decisions of the front office. From David Blatt’s firing to the Kyrie Irving trade, James always has a say in the matter. As a Laker, it doesn’t seem like much has changed.
While the Lakers are struggling without James, it seems that Walton shouldn’t be the team’s main concern. With Lonzo Ball, Rajon Rondo, and James all injured, the Lakers are just at a disadvantage when it comes to talent.
The team’s young core, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma, are still getting better as players. Without James, the Lakers wouldn’t be coming close to the playoffs.
It will be tough for the Lakers until the team is healthy again, with James leading the way. Even if Walton were to get fired, a head coach can only do so much. The Lakers will need to upgrade their roster and develop young players no matter what. Unless a trade happens before the deadline, the Lakers will have to wait until summer to try and land another star to play alongside James.
As for Walton, these reports should worry him. While he has a good relationship with the Buss family, he has a winning percentage of .327 in his two seasons as head coach. If it comes down to James’ happiness and confidence with the team or Walton’s job, the answer for the Lakers should be a no-brainer.