LeBron James' agent and business partner Rich Paul reportedly made NBA commissioner Adam Silver aware that he did not believe Luke Walton was the right coach for the Los Angeles Lakers.
According to a report from ESPN's Baxter Holmes, Paul met with Silver in November while the commissioner was meeting with Maverick Carter for lunch. Paul, who was seated at a nearby table, approached Silver to complain about Walton.
Silver "shrugged off the remark" and asked whom Paul thought would be the right coach. Paul suggested former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue, according to Holmes.
Holmes also reported that Paul told others, including journalists, through "back-channels" that he did not support Walton.
While it's not unusual for agents to make their voices heard on team matters, Holmes reported that tension between Paul, Walton and the Lakers existed even before LeBron James's first season in Los Angeles. According to Holmes, Paul was seen at the team's facilities during the 2017-18 season while representing guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Many viewed his presence as a scouting trip to determine if Walton was the right coach for James.
Paul was also seen riding on the team's charter once, creating the perception among the Lakers' coaching staff that Paul was trying to get Walton fired, according to ESPN. Some players also believed that Klutch Sports, Paul's agency, was working to trade them away for a superstar.
"I understand my position. I respect all those in our industry," Paul told ESPN in a statement. "At the end of the day, all I can do is continue to do a job for my client. That's it. I can't worry about what somebody thinks, the perception. All I can do is work hard and continue down the path that I'm on."
The Lakers fired Walton in April, days after team president Magic Johnson resigned abruptly on the last day of the regular season.