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Sources: Luke Walton takes heat from Magic Johnson for Lakers’ start

In a meeting on Tuesday, following a winless two-game trip, Los Angeles Lakers president Magic Johnson admonished coach Luke Walton for the team’s sluggish start to the season, league sources told ESPN.

Johnson’s cutting appraisal elevated an already acute awareness within the Lakers coaching staff that there are intense and immediate pressures on Walton to deliver the franchise a winner in short order.cheap nike nfl jersey

Despite Johnson’s prior proclamations of needing to allow time for Walton to develop a young roster surrounding four-time MVP LeBron James, evidence is mounting that Walton’s job security ultimately depends upon his ability to significantly improve upon a 3-5 record to start the season.5

Johnson’s aggressive meeting tone circulated to individuals throughout the organization, including to principal owner Jeanie Buss, league sources said. Throughout his tenure with the Lakers, Johnson has earned an internal reputation for an oftentimes volatile management style, including with his handling of Walton and the coaching staff, sources said.

Buss’ support for Walton has remained unwavering since Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka assumed command of basketball operations in 2017.

Walton was hired by her brother, Jim Buss, and ex-general manager Mitch Kupchak less than a year before Johnson and Pelinka took over.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

One of the greatest players in the history of the game, Johnson’s business interests often lead him to be traveling away from the team. Johnson relies on Pelinka to run the day-to-day basketball operations and offer reports and analysis up to him.

Those invested in Walton’s Laker staying power felt a wave of relief once Dallas’ frantic comeback fell short in the Lakers’ 114-113 victory at Staples on Wednesday. In the wake of Johnson’s chiding, the prospect of riding a three-game losing streak into this weekend’s games — away at Portland and then the second of a back-to-back against surging Toronto — loomed to those on the staff, league sources said.

The Lakers’ slow start includes the absences of two starters, forward Brandon Ingram and guard Rajon Rondo, to suspensions of four and three games, respectively. Guard Lonzo Ball began training camp on a minutes restriction following offseason knee surgery.