Magic Johnson alluded to the fact he didn’t want to fire Walton because owner Jeannie Buss supported the head coach.
Luke Walton has been fired by the Lakers.
The team announced Friday it has “mutually agreed to part ways” with the third-year coach, capping a tumultuous week in Los Angeles
“We would like to thank Luke for his dedicated service over the last three years,” general manager Rob Pelinka said in a statement. “We wish Luke and his family the best of luck moving forward.”
Walton went 98-148 in his three years in the job.
The Lakers won more games in each year he was at the helm, but his late-game managing came into question at times toward the end of his tenure.
“I want to thank Jeanie Buss and the Buss family for giving me the opportunity to coach the Lakers,” Walton said in a statement. “This franchise and the city will always be special to me and my family.”
This comes days after team president Magic Johnson stepped down from his role with the Lakers. He alluded to wanting to fire Walton but indicated he didn’t want to do so because Jeannie Buss supported him as the head coach.
“I don’t want to put her in the middle of us, even though she said, ‘Hey, you can do what you want to do,’“ Johnson said. “I know she has great love for (Walton) and great love for me.”
There were also rumors that LeBron James — who signed a four-year, $153.3 million contract with Los Angeles this offseason — didn’t get along with Walton and wanted a new head coach.
Tyronn Lue has been rumored as a replacement candidate for Walton over the last few months. According to ESPN, he is the frontrunner for the job. Former Pelicans coach Monty Williams also is expected to be a candidate.
Ty Lue is a strong frontrunner for the Lakers coaching job, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 12, 2019
Lue was the head coach for the Cavaliers over the last three seasons when James was in Cleveland, including in 2016 when the Cavaliers beat the Warriors for the NBA title.
The Lakers finished this season 37-45 and have failed the reach the playoffs over the last six seasons. They haven’t finished better than 10th in the conference in that time.
According to The Athletic, the Kings will now reach out to Walton about their head coaching vacancy, which arose after they fired Dave Joerger on Thursday.