Where do the Lakers go from here?

A devastating series of 4th quarter collapses have shone a harsh spotlight on the Lakers’ young core and head coach Luke Walton

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It only took four losses in five games without LeBron James to transform the Lakers’ heady optimism after trouncing the Warriors into fan and media calls to fire coach Luke Walton and give up on the team’s promising young core.

While nobody expects the Lakers will overreact and make a hasty decision, the pressure on Luke Walton and Brandon Ingram just ramped way up and as the team’s suddenly reached a critical juncture at the season’s halfway point. Looming in the background is the reality that the Lakers’ current front office of Earvin Johnson and Rob Pelinka were not the ones who hired Luke Walton as head coach or drafted Brandon Ingram #2 overall in the 2016 NBA draft.

In the past, Johnson and Pelinka have shown little hesitation to moving on from prior regime draft picks like D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle if they didn’t live up to expectations or fit in the team’s salary cap considerations. Whether the Lakers would fire Walton or trade Ingram before next summer is problematic. The big question is what do Luke Walton and Brandon Ingram need to do to redeem themselves and restore front office confidence in them?

The last time Lakers’ head coach Luke Walton was in the media crosshairs was earlier in the season when LaVar Ball proclaimed that he’d lost the team. The players immediately reeled off a series of wins to put that rumor to rest. Unlike back then, I don’t think Luke Walton or the Lakers’ young core can just flip the switch this time and solve the team’s problems without making the major adjustments I’ve outlined above. Not with LeBron and Rondo out.

How Luke Walton, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, and the rest of the Lakers’ young core responds to the devastating series of 4th quarter collapses and the resulting crisis will have a lasting impact on the team’s plans this summer. The photos of an unhappy Magic Johnson, Rob Pelinka, and LeBron glumly watching Paul George destroy the Lakers were chilling to Lakers’ fans who believed Luke Walton and the team’s young core were the team’s future.

Will Luke make any of the adjustments listed above or will he stand pat and continue trying to make Ingram something he’s not and allowing the team to slow the pace, play hero ball, over help on defense, and brick free throws? I’ve been a longtime supporter of Luke’s player management and relationship building skills although a harsh critic of his X’s and O’s and coaching staff but the time has come for Luke to prove he’s the Lakers’ coach of the future.

Written by

Lakers fanatic since 1971 when team traded for Wilt Chamberlain. Founder, editor, and publisher of Lakerholics.com, a community for smart informed Lakers fans.

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