Lakers and Luke Walton agree to part ways
The Lakers and coach Luke Walton have “mutually” agreed to part ways, the team announced in a statement Friday afternoon.
Walton was brought in the year after Kobe Bryant retired to oversee a rebuilding of the team. The Lakers’ record improved each season but they also missed the playoffs in each season.
“We would like to thank Luke for his dedicated service over the last three years,” general manager Rob Pelinka said. “We wish Luke and his family the best of luck moving forward.”
The move comes three days after president of basketball operations Magic Johnson resigned.
The team has no plans to fire Pelinka, people with knowledge of the situation said.
Walton is expected to be a top candidate for coach of the Sacramento Kings, who fired coach Dave Joerger on Thursday. The Kings’ general manager is former Lakers center Vlade Divac.
Walton had a record of 98-148 with the Lakers, who closed the 2018-19 season Tuesday night with a 104-101 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers to finish 37-45. The Lakers were 26-56 in Walton’s first season and 35-47 last season.
The arrival of LeBron James created anticipation of the Lakers’ return to the playoffs, but the 15-time All-Star forward injured his groin during a win over the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day and missed 17 consecutive games. Rajon Rondo also reinjured his right hand during the win and missed 14 games before returning on Jan. 24.
The Lakers plummeted from fourth place in the Western Conference standings to ninth before James’ return on Jan. 31. The Lakers announced on March 30 that he was done for the season.
James played in 55 games this season and averaged 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.3 assists per game. He made 51% of his shots from the field, and 33.9% of his three-point attempts. Those numbers were all higher than James’ career averages, except for three-point shooting accuracy.
Staff writer Broderick Turner contributed to this report.
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