Lakers owner Buss tweets support for Walton
DALLAS — For the first time since LaVar Ball’s critical comments, Los Angeles Lakers majority owner Jeanie Buss tweeted support for coach Luke Walton.
Buss posted a picture of her sitting at a dinner table with general manager Rob Pelinka and Walton while tweeting that she was on her way to Memphis for this weekend’s Martin Luther King Jr. events surrounding the Lakers-Grizzlies game Monday.
— Jeanie Buss (@JeanieBuss) January 13, 2018
Sources close to the situation told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that Buss became concerned that the situation was escalating after rumors connecting the team to former Grizzlies coach David Fizdale surfaced Friday. She wants to reassure Walton of the team’s commitment to him as coach now and in the future, sources said.
While this is the second time Buss has tweeted “#InLukeWeTrust” since New Year’s Eve, this is a strong endorsement for Walton since it is the first time anyone from Lakers management has publicly expressed support for him since Ball told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman on Sunday that the coach had lost the team during a nine-game losing streak and that “they don’t want to play for him.”
Past indications have been that Walton’s job was not in jeopardy, with a Lakers source telling Shelburne on Sunday that Walton’s job status is “not even a conversation.”
Walton, Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma all disagreed with LaVar Ball’s statements, with Kuzma defending the coach and saying the team stands with Walton. Lonzo Ball said he did not think Walton had lost the locker room and that he just wanted to play basketball. The rookie point guard said he does not choose who the coach is and that his father is a grown man who will always express his opinions.
However, there was no statement or comment from the Lakers organization following LaVar Ball’s comments made while in Lithuania, where his sons LiAngelo and LaMelo are playing.
The front office did not want to respond to comments made by a parent of a player, even if the Lakers met with LaVar Ball earlier in the season to ask him to tone down his previous criticism of Walton and the coaching staff being “soft” on the rookie point guard while also harping on how they were using Lonzo Ball in the fourth quarter.
The previous lack of a response from the organization seemed to feed into speculation about Walton’s future. Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, president of the coaches’ association, called the reporting of LaVar Ball’s comments a disgrace and came to Walton’s defense. Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy and San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich also defended Walton.