Head coach Luke Walton and the Los Angeles Lakers are trying to find a winning formula amid a 4-6 start to the 2018-19 NBA season. As the Lakers have prioritized defense and rebounding, Walton also still needs to establish his rotations after the Tyson Chandler signing.
In the 114-110 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, Walton had a crucial decision to make as Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart were both on the bench despite solid performances.
With Rajon Rondo struggling defensively against Derrick Rose, Walton ultimately kept him and Chandler in, who ended up making key plays down the stretch. “We thought about going back to Lonzo,” Walton said after the victory.
“Do we go back to Josh Hart? If we go back to Josh, do we put him in for Rondo? Do we put him in for Tyson? All those thoughts are going through the head as the game is going. But Rondo was doing a really nice job of just being a point guard out there, so we stuck with Rondo.
“And obviously Tyson, he was doing a nice job of getting up on those three-point shots off the screen.”
For Walton, this will likely be his greatest challenge and the main criticism he has received so far. While some believe the young core should close out games to accelerate the learning curve, Walton may be more comfortable playing veterans who already have that experience.
Whether it is fair or not, there is pressure on Walton to win now following president of basketball operations Magic Johnson’s recent comments. Although Johnson said Walton will remain the head coach unless something ‘drastic’ happens, he did not go into detail about what that exactly meant.
With the Lakers winning three of their last four games, they are making progress, however small it may be. Over the next nine games, they have a fairly favorable schedule where they can hopefully put together wins and be competitive in the Western Conference.