It’s no secret it is hard to be LeBron’s coach. The only one who was on the hot seat, stood up to him, and survived was Erik Spoelstra. That means Brendan Malone, Paul Silas, Mike Brown, David Blatt, and Ty Lue came and went as LeBron pleased. This is one of the most significant impacts LeBron made in his career. No player in NBA history had such an impact on organizational decisions and was the leader in making the NBA a players league.
According to reporting from Brian Windhorst and Jackie McMullin on the “Hoop Collective” podcast, Luke Walton is on the hot seat, and LeBron’s team (that almost never speaks without his knowledge) expressed no love for Walton:
There’s a lot of tension in that building, a lot of tension. People are wondering about Luke Walton even though Jeanie came out, Jeanie Buss, very strongly and said “I want Luke to be here, I back him 100%”, but then also made the point that has to be made, and that is that she hired Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson to make these decisions and if Earvin feels differently she gave him the power to make those kinds of decisions.
It’s clear to me, and probably to you Brian (Windhorst), that LeBron’s camp would prefer a coaching change, they’re not too subtle about that. I don’t think that’s fair.
This is something we’ve heard about all year long, and it comes down to whether Jeanie Buss will make the final call. LeBron wants a different coach, and it is no secret Magic wants a change as well. Walton is not Magic (and Pelinka’s) guy; he was already there when they were hired. GM’s always want to hire ”their guy,” and when it comes to teams that LeBron is playing on, there is always GM LeBron that has to be consulted. That means Magic, Pelinka, and LeBron will try to push him out this summer.
The Miami situation was different as Pat Riley had Spoelstra’s back, so the owner did not have to get involved. To be fair, Spoelstra was Riley’s choice, worked as his assistant, and he chose him to be his successor as the head coach. But when LeBron pushed to get Spoelstra out, Riley said “no.” While this proved to be a good decision on the court, it probably did have something to do with LeBron leaving Miami. He wants control, and with Riley as GM, he couldn’t have the last say.
He is in a different situation now, committed to the Lakers at a later stage of his career and Jeanie Buss shouldn’t be concerned about LeBron leaving if he isn’t appeased. But as McMullan said, Buss did point out she hired Magic to make basketball decisions, and we know Magic wants him out. đ
The question that arises is, who do you bring in? Walton is a young talented coach, basketball royalty and was very successful with the Warriors. It is difficult to see a coaching candidate out there that would be significantly better.
Now, the questions is does the triumvirate want a better coach or a coach that will do things their way. It’s not just about being good – you have to be good on their terms.