With the team reeling, there’s only so far they are willing to fall before making some changes. It’s not all on Luke Walton but, unfortunately, the respectable head coach will likely be the first to go if things continue to spiral downwards.
In two and a half seasons with the Lakers, Walton is 86-127 since taking over coaching duties. He has often been praised for his relationships with the players and patience with the media. He’s certainly not a bad coach, especially considering what he’s had to work with these past few seasons.
Now, with LeBron, things have changed dramatically for the both the Lakers and for Luke. His job is no longer to help develop lottery pick players into a star but to help secure the team a Championship. Whether or not he can do that has been questionable of late, and we know some within the Lakers organization are eager to see him go.
This leads to a bigger question: if he’s out, then who will step in? Here are five possible replacements for Luke Walton if the Lakeshow decide they want to move in a new direction:
5. Kevin McHale
Magic Johnson never considered Walton to be the right type of coach. McHale, who turned 61 in December, could check all the boxes for Magic. He has a no-nonsense type of attitude that would likely push the team to give their all. He wouldn’t back down from confrontation if a player needed to be held accountable. Better yet, he’s a respectable guy that’s been through just about everything.
4. Jeff Van Gundy
He’s been out of the league for some time now, but we see his basketball brilliance being displayed all the time as an ESPN analyst. Van Gundy would be a sexy name to take the coaching reigns, and would seemingly fit well with LeBron. But, again, just his pure basketball mind alone might be enough for him to draw some interest.
3. Frank Vogel
Frank Vogel’s time in Orlando was a failure. Even so, his success with the Pacers shows he gets along with stars and believes in defense, an element so often overlooked in today’s game. Problem is, Vogel is not the guy to elevate young players, meaning if the Lakers like Vogel, they might be better off exchanging their youngsters for a more established veteran superstar.
2. Phil Jackson
This is a long shot, and health is an issue for Jackson (who turned 73 in September), but the Lakers would only need Jackson for a few seasons. When LeBron’s contract expires in 2022, Phil can walk as well, and the Lakers would have to search for a replacement then. Short term, it would give the Lakers one of the best coaching minds in NBA history and would, no doubt, be a dream come true for LeBron. True, Phil has expressed to desire to return to the game, but if anyone can convince him, it’s Magic Johnson and the rest of the Lakers’ brass.
1. Marc Jackson
This is a name that has been connected to the Lakers for some time now. It’s a miracle he’s even still available. He essentially provides everything the Lakers could want in a coach without many negatives. His previous track record with Golden State gives him a lot of credibility in the eyes of the community.