This upcoming season will feature a Los Angeles Lakers roster that is very different than the one that just went 35-47 and missed the playoffs. The improvements and overhaul started with the signing of LeBron James to a four-year contract.
That was followed up by the Lakers inking Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee, Michael Beasley and Rajon Rando to one-year deals. Aside from some members of the young core, head coach Luke Walton is one of the few holdovers of recent seasons.
After being hired away from the Golden State Warriors, Walton is now entering his third season at the helm of the Lakers. During times the franchise didn’t boast a talent-laden roster, Walton was praised for his skills in player development.
Now, Walton will see his first real test with James, savvy veterans and a developing group of youngsters in the fold. However, the group includes several strong personalities that may challenge.
TNT analyst Charles Barkley outlined why he believes Walton will struggle to coach the Lakers this season, via Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver:
“That’s an impossible scenario for Luke,” he said. “He’s got LeBron who is going to do things his way. He’s got those young kids who are probably in awe of LeBron. He’s got those older guys who are going to try to seek attention. I don’t think Lance and Rondo are going there to be the ninth or 10th guys on the bench and be quiet all year. They’re going to want touches.”
Barkley has often tended to be hypercritical of the Lakers. However, he may have somewhat of a valid point in that Walton could have to prove himself.
At age 38, he is the NBA’s youngest coach. Walton has also just been given a roster led by greatest player in the world as well as some large personalities. If he can figure it all out and lead the Lakers to a successful season, any doubt would be put to bed.