Walton feels safe, despite pressure from Johnson

LOS ANGELES • Los Angeles Lakers president Magic Johnson "admonished" coach Luke Walton for the team's sluggish start to the National Basketball Association season and adopted an "aggressive tone" in a stormy meeting, reported ESPN.

Walton said on Friday that closed-door discussions, like Tuesday's, are not for public consumption but he denied his job is at risk.

Furthermore, he is reported to have retained the support of their new star, LeBron James.

"We've played some good teams and we've had a chance to win a lot of those games," said Walton, whose team opened the season 3-5 amid rising expectations following the arrival of James in July. "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."

Johnson, who has a reputation for a sometimes emotional and volatile management style, has been heavy-handed in his approach to Walton behind the scenes. But owner Jeanie Buss is still supportive of the former Golden State Warriors assistant, who played for the Lakers during Kobe Bryant's heyday.

Asked if he believed he retained the support of the management, Walton replied: "I feel like I have a great relationship with management. I feel like I'm coming down here to do my job and coach. I don't feel like I'm going anywhere."

He reiterated that, despite the fanfare surrounding the arrival of James, rebuilding after years of mediocrity would take time for the Lakers, who have not reached the play-offs since 2013. Even Johnson had previously called for patience to allow a young team to develop with James at their core.

NO DANGER

I feel like I have a great relationship with management. I feel like I'm coming down here to do my job and coach. I don't feel like I'm going anywhere.

LUKE WALTON, LA Lakers' coach, denying that his job is at risk.

Said Walton: "We have been saying since the beginning that we need to be patient.

"We know where we're going and we know what it takes to get there. It takes hard work. And right now our guys work extremely hard.

"We've had a couple of setbacks with some suspensions. We've played some good teams and we've had a chance to win a lot of those games, unfortunately we haven't.

"But that's the NBA. We plan on winning those in the future."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 04, 2018, with the headline 'Walton feels safe, despite pressure from Johnson'. Print Edition | Subscribe