DALLAS — For the first time since LaVar Ball’s critical comments, Lakers majority owner Jeanie Buss tweeted support for Lakers head 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 is on her way to Memphis for this weekend’s Martin Luther King Jr. events surrounding the Lakers-Grizzlies game on Monday.
On my way to #Memphis for #Lakers game. Dinner with Rob and Luke tomorrow night. Barbecue!! @Lakers #InLukeWeTrust pic.twitter.com/cDIAHSn80a
— Jeanie Buss (@JeanieBuss) January 13, 2018
While this is the second time that Buss has tweeted “#InLukeWeTrust” since New Year’s Eve, this is a strong endorsement by Buss for Walton since it is the first time anyone from Lakers management has publicly expressed support for him after LaVar Ball told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman that the head coach had lost the team during a nine-game losing streak and that “they don’t want to play for him.”
All indications have been that Walton’s job is not in any jeopardy, with a Lakers source telling ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that Walton’s job status is “not even a conversation.”
The Los Angeles Lakers knew what they were getting in LaVar Ball when they drafted his son Lonzo. But after multiple meetings and pleas not to publicly disparage their team and coach, the situation remains unchanged. What will the Lakers do now?
With controversy swirling around the Lakers amid critical comments from LaVar Ball that coach Luke Walton has lost the locker room, Brandon Ingram helped the team snap a nine-game losing streak on Sunday against the Hawks.
Rick Carlisle, president of the NBA Coaches Association, said it’s a “disgrace” that ESPN published LaVar Ball’s comments critical of Lakers coach Luke Walton. Carlisle said such comments shouldn’t be published if they have no merit or validity.
Sources close to the situation told Shelburne that Buss became concerned the situation was escalating after rumors connecting the team to former Memphis coach David Fizdale surfaced Friday and wanted to reassure Walton of the team’s commitment to him as coach now and in the future.
The Fizdale rumors and speculation have come exclusively from outside the Lakers organization.
Walton, Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma all disagreed with LaVar Ball’s statements this past week with Kuzma defending the coach and saying that 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 two 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 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 the Lonzo in the fourth quarter.
The previous lack of a statement or comment from the organization only seemed to feed into speculation about Walton’s future. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle, president of the coaches association, called the reporting of LaVar’s comments a disgrace and came to Walton’s defense. Detroit head coach Stan Van Gundy and San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich also defended Walton.