Magic Johnson admits he planned to fire Luke Walton as Lakers coach, but reluctance was ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’
Magic Johnson spilled the details of his short-lived tenure as president of the Los Angeles Lakers on the set of ESPN’s “First Take,” and among them was his intent to fire former coach Luke Walton to get a “better coach” instead:
“The straw that broke the camel’s back was I wanted to fire Luke Walton,” said Johnson. “We had three meetings. I showed (Jeanie Buss) the things he did well and the things he didn’t do well. And I said, ‘Listen, we got to get a better coach. I like him, he’s great, former Laker, the whole thing.'”
Magic Johnson wanted to fire Luke Walton and "get a better coach." pic.twitter.com/eMoz5Lf9w8
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) May 20, 2019
Johnson infamously had a stern meeting with Walton during the start of the season, as the Lakers underperformed during the first few games. Strike one.
The Lakers also began to dip following LeBron James’ injury, which put Walton on the hot seat ahead of the NBA trade deadline. Strike two.
Ultimately after being eliminated from playoff contention, Walton’s job security was on thin ice. Strike three. But Walton actually outlasted Johnson in his tenure there, apparently coinciding with the third meeting he had with Buss, who wasn’t quite ready to pull the trigger on the move.
The Lakers ultimately fired Walton soon after Johnson resigned, but there were rumors that the organization did not want to seem dysfunctional by firing a coach before the end of the season.
Well … so much for that, right?
Johnson was aiming at candidates like Tyronn Lue to take over the job, but ultimately wasn’t able to make the firing, nor the hiring of the candidate of his choice, as he abruptly resigned from his post as president of basketball operations minutes before the season finale against the Portland Trail Blazers.