Report: Rich Paul complained to Adam Silver about Luke Walton early this season
Luke Walton’s former job as the coach of the Los Angeles Lakers was one that only had the illusion of safety from the time LeBron James landed in La La Land after signing a four-year, $154 million deal last summer. According to ESPN’s Baxter Holmes, James’ longtime friend and agent, Rich Paul, approached NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to complain about Walton, saying he didn’t believe Walton was the right coach for the organization:
Silver shrugged off the remark and asked whom Paul thought would be the right coach. Paul suggested Tyronn Lue.
Much like his client, Paul has learned the art of toeing the line between breaking the rules and friendly suggestions, like what James has done publicly and privately to surround himself with a roster to make the most of his abilities.
Paul’s efforts to see a coaching change into existence didn’t stop there, as the Klutch Sports agent was also letting it be known through back-channel conversations, including some with reporters, that he wasn’t a fan of Walton:
Paul criticized how Walton allotted minutes to players and his inconsistent lineups, which were partly the result of injuries and suspensions. Members of the Lakers’ coaching staff became aware of those conversations and wondered whether (Magic) Johnson’s heated meeting with Walton was influenced by Paul.
Paul knew he had zero control of the situation, but hoped that fanning the flames enough would ultimately cause Walton’s dismissal and Lue’s entrance over time.
Walton got to play out the full 2018-19 NBA season before being fired after its culmination, while the Lakers misfired on Lue by short-changing him in contractual talks, as well as trying to build his own coaching staff for him.
Yet it’s still worth noting that James’ voice and influence at times is made even when he doesn’t speak about it himself, mostly spreading the message through his powerful connections around the league.