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Los Angeles Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson is reportedly putting the pressure on head coach Luke Walton to turn things around.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Dave McMenamin, Johnson “admonished” Walton during a meeting Tuesday for the Lakers’ “sluggish start” to the season.
L.A. is 12th in the Western Conference through eight games with a record of 3-5.
After going 35-47 last season and missing the playoffs for the fifth consecutive campaign, the Lakers shook up their roster significantly during the offseason.
Most notably, Los Angeles signed former Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James to a four-year contract.
The Lakers also brought in veteran guards Rajon Rondo and Lance Stephenson, as well as center JaVale McGee to mesh with a young core that includes Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma.
Wojnarowski and McMenamin noted that Johnson’s tone during the meeting with Walton is something many individuals within the organization have become aware of, including owner Jeanie Buss.
While Walton’s job may depend on showing significant improvement over the course of the season, Buss’ support for Walton is reportedly “unwavering.”
Since starting the season 0-3, the Lakers have gone 3-2 over their past five, including a 114-113 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday.
LeBron has thrived in his new environment, averaging 27.8 points, 8.6 rebounds and 8.0 assists per game, giving him the look of a top MVP candidate.
After going 17-65 in 2015-16, the Lakers hired Walton after he enjoyed a successful stint as an assistant with the Golden State Warriors.
The Lakers have improved in each season under Walton, as they went 26-56 in 2016-17 and 35-47 last season.
While Walton was considered the NBA‘s hottest coaching candidate when the Lakers landed him, Johnson was not yet in a position of power at that time.
Walton’s next chance to impress Johnson will come Saturday when the Lakers face the Portland Trail Blazers on the road.