How Long Does Luke Walton Have Left in L.A.? Lakers Coach under Pressure after Poor Start

Luke Walton, head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, calls for a foul during a 121-107 loss to the Toronto Raptors at Staples Center on November 4 in Los Angeles, California. Harry How/Getty Images

Magic Johnson maintains Luke Walton will not be fired but the future of the Los Angeles Lakers' head coach looks increasingly bleak after yet another defeat.

The Lakers lost 121-107 on home court on Sunday night against the Toronto Raptors and are now 4-6 with the 12th best record in the Western Conference, a long way away from where they were expected to be after signing LeBron James in the summer.

Despite the arrival of the greatest player of his generation, the purple and yellow have struggled in the first three weeks of the season and last week Magic held a meeting with Walton following the Lakers' two consecutive losses on the road against San Antonio and Minnesota.

The Lakers' president of basketball operations then told the Los Angeles Times on Sunday he had no intention of firing Walton, a stance he repeated the defeat against the Raptors.

"We're not going to fire him," he was quoted as saying by ESPN.

"[Last week's meeting] wasn't even a meeting about that. We just have to be better and that was it."

According to data compiled by Bovada last month, at 7/4 (+175 in moneyline terms) Walton was the main candidate to be the first NBA coach to be relieved of his duties. The unwanted accolade, however, went to Tyronn Lue, who was fired by the Cleveland Cavaliers last week.

Magic Johnson promises that Luke Walton will “finish the year” as the Lakers coach.

— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) November 5, 2018

After a 0-3 start, the Lakers won two games in a row but any hopes that might kick-start a winning run were swiftly quashed. Aside from LeBron, in Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart the Lakers have one of the most promising young cores in the league but for all its attacking talent, the team's defense has looked worryingly soft.

"We're last in defense," Magic admitted.

"We got to get better."

The Lakers' defensive flaws were again laid bare on Sunday, as the 16-time NBA champions gave up an incredible 25-point deficit in a calamitous first quarter.

According to ESPN Stats & Info, the 42-17 deficit was the largest the Lakers have conceded in a first quarter since the 1954-55 season when the shot-clock era began.

Serge Ibaka scored 20 points on 8-for-8 from the field, outscoring the Lakers by himself, as Los Angeles went a collective 7-for-21.

Toronto, who was without Kawhi Leonard, led by as many as 31 points at one stage in the first half, before the Lakers managed to close the gap to 14 points with just over four minutes left in the fourth quarter.

While the Raptors re-inserted four of their starters to see the game home, Walton opted to leave his bench unit out on the court after they had played a major role in cutting Toronto's lead.

That, however, meant leaving LeBron on the bench for the final period.

🎥 Luke Walton spoke after the game about the team’s slow start and the effort to climb back in their loss to the Toronto Raptors.

— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) November 5, 2018

"That group that cut it to that low was playing with great energy, they were getting stops, they were moving the ball," Walton said after the game, as per the Lakers' official Twitter account.

"You kind of like to reward a group like that. And I had 'Bron out for a while, on a back-to-back, it wasn't going to be ideal to throw him back in there. But if we got close enough, we would've had him back on the floor to try to steal that one."

The four-time MVP's version of events, however, appeared to differ slightly from Walton's.

"I talked to [Lakers associate head coach Brian] Shaw, he came over to me about the five-minute mark and asked me if I wanted to give it another shot or let the guys go who were in there," LeBron said, as per LakersNation.

"I had been sitting so long, so I was OK with the unit that was playing well at that point in time."

The three-time NBA champion finished with 18 points, six assists and two rebounds in 28 minutes. Next up for the Lakers is a home matchup against Minnesota on Wednesday, followed by a trip to Sacramento.