Earlier this week there was talk that Clippers coach Doc Rivers could switch Los Angeles locker rooms next season and replace Luke Walton as Lakers coach.
But Rivers shot down such speculation Tuesday, saying he had verbally agreed to a contract extension with the Clippers to remain their coach.
Now more news is coming out as to why Rivers is so against what many would consider an upgrade in going from the Clippers to the Lakers.
ESPN’s Mike Wilbon said Tuesday on “Pardon the Interruption” that there are people close to Rivers who told him not to go to the Lakers because of the individual around whom the organization is built: LeBron James.
“There are people in Southern California right in that environment telling Doc he doesn’t want to do this. And one of those reasons is simply LeBron James,” Wilbon said.
“He’s been told by people — and I know this — LeBron doesn’t want to be coached,” he continued. “He’s never been coached by somebody with that kind of personality, command, authority, acumen, intellect. He’s rejected that. So Doc is being reminded of that by people.”
Wilbon and Rivers know each other well, co-host Tony Kornheiser noted. Both are from Chicago, are roughly the same age and attended high schools just 10 miles apart. So when Wilbon said “and I know this,” his source could be Rivers himself, or at least a mutual friend.
The idea that LeBron James doesn’t want to be coached has followed him throughout his pro career.
James has clashed with virtually every coach he’s had, whether it be in Cleveland, Miami or Los Angeles. Some call him a “coach killer” given the way that he orchestrated the firing of David Blatt just months after making the NBA Finals in Cleveland.
LeBron has played for six head coaches in the NBA, and only Mike Brown and Erik Spoelstra have lasted more than three seasons.
No matter how you look at it, this season has been a total disaster for the Lakers. Their record of 31-40 is identical to where they were last year through 71 games.
The Lakers are going to miss the playoffs for a sixth straight season, which comes after missing the playoffs just five times total over their first 65 years of existence.
Many of their young players haven’t made the leap that many expected, and recent No. 2 overall picks Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram have been shut down for the rest of the season.
The Lakers’ front office also has had a poor season as its efforts to acquire Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans never materialized and the trade rumors disrupted team chemistry.
Walton has been a dead man walking for the last two months, and in addition to people speculating about his replacement, they are also talking about where he could end up next.
If Luke Walton does not survive as the Lakers coach it is quite possible he will have his pick of two very good jobs—Arizona and UCLA. The coaching carousel could be frozen for a while until his situation plays out. Lakers’ final game is March 31.
— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) March 11, 2019
Arizona is Walton’s alma mater, while UCLA is where his father became a legend.
Going from the NBA to college basketball might not be a promotion, but at least he wouldn’t have to deal with the drama surrounding the Lakers.
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