Basketball: Lakers coach Luke Walton unfazed by shape-up-or-ship-out talk, says he has management's support

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton said he is confident of the support of team management on Friday (Nov 2) after a report suggested his position was at risk following a stormy meeting with Magic Johnson.

An ESPN report on Friday said Walton had come under fire from the Lakers’ president of basketball operations over the team’s sluggish start to the season.

The Lakers, who recruited LeBron James in the off-season in an attempt at revitalisation, have won just three of their eight games this season.

ESPN said Johnson had “admonished” Walton during a meeting on Tuesday, saying the Lakers legend had adopted an “aggressive tone” with the coach.

Walton however played down any suggestion that his job could be at risk in comments to reporters on Friday.

“Whenever we go on a losing streak there’s going to be stories out there and distractions,” Walton said.

Asked if he believed he retained support of 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.”

Walton insisted that he remained in regular communication with the front office and that his meeting with Johnson had been routine.

“Magic, myself, (GM) Rob (Pelinka) and (owner) Jeanie (Buss) are in constant communication,” he said. “This is something we do all the time. What we discuss in our meetings is between us.”

Walton, meanwhile, reiterated that despite the fanfare surrounding the arrival of James, rebuilding the Lakers after years of mediocrity – they have not reached the playoffs since 2013 – would take time.

“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,” Walton said.

“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.”

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