Luke Walton is already coaching for his job with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Lakers president Magic Johnson informed Walton of this reality in a meeting Tuesday, ESPN reported.
Walton said Friday that closed-door discussions are not for public consumption, but denied anything has changed this week.
“We’ve played some good teams and we’ve had a chance to win a lot of those games,” Walton said. “I’ve got enough going on. My message to the players was, ‘We know this was going to happen. Every time we go on a losing streak, these stories are going to be out there.
“I feel like I’m doing my job and coaching. I don’t feel like I’m going anywhere.”
The Lakers opened the season 3-5 amidst rising expectations following the arrival of LeBron James in July. Johnson had said patience would be critical as James blends with a core of young players, but Adrian Wojnarowski reported Friday that Walton is very much on notice that he must win now.
Walton was in place nearly a year before Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka took over the team at the behest of Jeanie Buss. Johnson puts the ball in Pelinka’s hands on roster decisions and most day-to-day personnel matters.
ESPN reported Johnson has been heavy-handed in his approach to Walton behind the scenes despite Buss supporting the former Golden State Warriors assistant who played for the Lakers during Kobe Bryant’s heyday.
James has been supportive of Walton publicly. ESPN reported the same is true privately.
“I think Luke’s trying to figure out what works best,” James said after a one-point win over the Mavericks this week. “We knew it was going to be like that from the summer when ‘Zo had the knee surgery. We knew we were going to have a lineup change there. Obviously, we had the unexpected one when we had the suspensions, so we had a lineup change there... We’ll get to a point where we know how comfortable we need to be with different lineups.”
—Field Level Media