The Los Angeles Lakers and head coach Luke Walton have “mutually” agreed to part ways, the team said in a statement Friday afternoon.
Walton was brought in the season after Lakers guard Kobe Bryant retired to oversee a rebuild. The team’s record improved each season but Walton’s Lakers failed to make the playoffs — including this season, the first with LeBron James.
The move by general manager Rob Pelinka comes three days after president of basketball operations Magic Johnson resigned.
“I want to thank Jeanie Buss and the Buss family for giving me the opportunity to coach the Lakers,” Walton said in a statement. “This franchise and the city will always be special to me and my family.”
Walton is expected to be a top candidate for the head coach opening with the Sacramento Kings, who fired Dave Joerger on Thursday.
Walton went 98-148 with the Lakers. The arrival of James created anticipation, but the 15-time All-Star forward injured his groin during a win over the Warriors on Christmas and missed 17 consecutive games. Point guard Rajon Rondo also re-injured his right hand during the win and missed 14 games before returning Jan. 24.
Photo: Nuccio DiNuzzo / Associated Press
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The Lakers plummeted from fourth place in the Western Conference standings to ninth before James’ returned Jan. 31.
“I think Luke did a hell of a job with what he had, the cards he was dealt,” Rondo said. “The guys fought every night.”
Pelicans to hire Griffin: The New Orleans Pelicans have reached an agreement in principle to make former Cleveland Cavaliers general manager David Griffin their new executive vice president of basketball operations.
Griffin will take over for former Pelicans general manager Dell Demps, who was fired in the middle of his ninth season with the club a few weeks after All-Star forward Anthony Davis’ trade request in late January.
Griffin also could decide the fate of Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry.
Silver’s plan: Commissioner Adam Silver mentioned shorter games or a shorter season as ways the NBA could make its future product better for players and fans.
“I think a fair point from fans could be if ultimately the science suggests that 82 games is too many games for these players, maybe you shouldn’t have an 82-game season,” Silver said.
He said the addition of midseason or end-of-season tournaments could be one option, as could trimming games from 48 minutes to 40, which is the length of college and international games.
Briefly: Oklahoma City forward Paul George could miss Sunday’s playoff opener at Portland because of right shoulder soreness. … Toronto forward OG Anunoby underwent an emergency appendectomy, and there is no timetable for his return. The Raptors open their first-round playoff series Saturday at home against Orlando.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Luke-Walton-out-as-Lakers-coach-after-three-13764356.php.