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Lakers Part Ways With Head Coach Luke Walton After Three Seasons

The Lakers have parted ways with Luke Walton after a tumultuous season. 

The Lakers and head coach Luke Walton mutually agreed to part ways on Friday, the team announced

"We would like to thank Luke for his dedicated service over the last three years," Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said in a statement. "We wish Luke and his family the best of luck moving forward."

The decision comes after Magic Johnson abruptly stepped down as the team's president of basketball operations before the Lakers final game of the season against the Portland Trail Blazers. In an impromptu press conference, Johnson told reporters that his position as the team's president did not allow him to be himself. Johnson had reportedly not spoken to Walton "in weeks," and he had reportedly received permission from owner Jeanie Buss to fire Walton following the season.

Former Cavs head coach Ty Lue is the "strong frontrunner" to land the Lakers head coach position, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Lue won the 2016 Finals with James in Cleveland before being fired in October 2018. 76ers assistant Monty Williams is also a "central candidate" per Wojnarowski.  

In November, Johnson had squashed reports that Walton would be fired after the Lakers got off to a slow start. Since then, the relationship between Walton and the team has deteriorated. Lakers veterans reportedly got into a heated argument with the coach after Los Angeles's 115–101 loss to Golden State in early February.

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Point guard Lonzo Ball's father LaVar went after Walton ahead of the NBA trade deadline after rumors of a trade deal involving Ball surfaced.

"When they got to the Lakers, Luke Walton was the worst coach ever for Lonzo 'cause he had a losing mentality," LaVar said.

Walton led the Lakers to a 37–45 record this season, missing the playoffs for the sixth-straight season. 

The 39-year-old coach has been with the Lakers since April 2016. He went 26–56 in his first season with the team. In his second season with Los Angeles, the Lakers went 35–47 for the team's best record since the 2012–13 season.

Walton played 10 seasons as an NBA forward, winning two titles with Los Angeles. He worked as an assistant for the Warriors before being appointed interim head coach after Steve Kerr took a leave of absence to rehabilitate his back. Walton led the Warriors to the longest winning streak to open a season in NBA history.