Magic: Lakers 'not going to fire' Walton

Field Level Media/Reuters

Posted at Nov 06 2018 09:54 AM

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton reacts to a referee call during the third quarter against the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center. Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Los Angeles Lakers president Magic Johnson is standing by head coach Luke Walton.

"Yeah, we're not going to fire him," Johnson told ESPN during the Lakers' 121-107 home loss to the Toronto Raptors on Sunday, which dropped L.A.'s record to 4-6.

Johnson said his meeting with Walton last week had nothing to do with the job security of the third-year coach.

"It wasn't even a meeting about that," Johnson said. "We just have to be better, and that was it."

Particularly, Johnson said the Lakers have to improve on defense. Los Angeles entered Monday ranked 27th in the NBA in points allowed (120.0 per game) and 24th in field-goal percentage defense (.476).

Johnson told the Los Angeles Times on Sunday that Walton's job was safe "unless something drastic happens." When asked by ESPN to be more specific, Johnson declined.

"No, not going into that," he said. "He's our coach, we supporting him, and that's it."

Walton, son of Hall of Fame center Bill Walton, won two NBA championships as a player with the Lakers in 2008-09 and 2009-10.

In his first two seasons as the head coach, Los Angeles finished 26-56 in 2016-17 and 35-47 in 2017-18.

Prior to Sunday's loss to the Raptors, the 38-year-old Walton said he appreciated the messages of support he has received.

"I have my job to coach this team and the support is nice, obviously, whether it is coming from my dad or it is coming from another coach," Walton said. "It's nice, but it doesn't change what I am doing as far as the job and coaching this team and these players. It doesn't influence that at all."

The Lakers return to action at home Wednesday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

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