Luke Walton is gone at the end of the season for the Lakers. If anyone thinks otherwise they are deluding themselves. This entire Lakers season has been a set-up for Walton to be done away with. To be fair Luke Walton took a bad hand and played it in the worse way possible but he was never going to last once news leaked that Magic and Pelinka wanted to get their own coach and not Walton the last big remnant from the Jim Buss-Mitch Kupchak era.
The names that were initially doing the rounds were not top tier coaches. Mark Jackson, Jason Kidd and Tyronn Lue. Well known names in NBA, but not really known for any technical or systemic knowledge that they can come in and implement. After years of watching Luke Walton and before that Byron Scott do nothing for the offense, Lakers fans want ball movement and good offensive basketball and none of the names promised any such future.
That is why the Lakers twitter breathed a collective sigh of relief when Stephen A Smith revealed last week that Doc Rivers and Lakers had mutual interest for the next season. Rivers is a perennial coach of the year candidate and this season has taken a near rag tag crew of the Clippers to the playoffs ahead of cross town rivals. Smith, who is believed to be well plugged in with Magic is a reliable source generally. And for years the narrative has existed that Rivers has wanted to coach the Lakers because of their history and their massive marketing reach.
— ESPNLosAngeles (@ESPNLosAngeles) March 19, 2019
Doc Rivers puts an end to any speculation of him and the Lakers coaching job by saying that he and Steve Balmer have agreed earlier this season to a new extension that still needs paperwork to be finalized. But Rivers, who had an option out of his… https://t.co/XGT7I4iqe3
— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) March 20, 2019
But that was put to rest pretty quickly by Rivers, who came out a day after the reported interest was published and said:
“Let me end this. Magic Johnson & I are very close friends…but Steve Ballmer and I have a great relationship. He gave me an out, where I could opt-out this summer…early this year, let’s end this thing, extend, make it a longer deal. I’m here. My job is not done.
So while there is no guarantee that this move doesn’t happen further down in the future, it does seem like its not happening right away. And new rumors and hushed discussions around the league seem to point towards LeBron James for this.
LeBron in his time at the Cavs wielded historic amount of power for a player. He spoke about all the moves irrespective of whether it was movement of coaches or even the general manager. It’s all great for player power but coaches and GMs around the league will be worried about taking on the challenge that comes with managing a player like LeBron with as much influence and media attention as LeBron’s.
Doc Rivers Was Told To Not Take The Lakers Job Because Of LeBron James And His Refusal To Be… – National Basketball Association News – https://t.co/wdL77V8dJp
— Los Angeles Sports News (@Lakers_newsnow) March 22, 2019
No wonder the NBA champion head coach wanted nothing to do with LeBron James' Los Angeles Lakers. https://t.co/ejsrvZr4FL
— Celtics247 (@BOS_Celtics247) March 22, 2019
Couple that with reports of LeBron playing pseudo coach, drawing up plays, managing rotations, ignoring sets called by coaches, and you can see why a coach with the reputation of Doc Rivers would want to avoid joining the Lakers at this point of time.
The Lakers also have to consult LeBron before making the hire and so far LeBron hasn’t spoken about the situation, given Luke Walton is still at the helm till the end of the season. But once Walton is gone all bets are off and what LeBron has to say during the selection process might be a good indicator of who might be coming in. But one person who’s definitely not coming in right away is Doc Rivers and the reason the Lakers miss out on a future Hall of Fame coach might be their future Hall of Fame player.