LA Lakers 'Almost Certainly' Set to Fire Luke Walton at the End of the Season

Luke Walton, Los Angeles Lakers
Luke Walton of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during the second half against the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on February 27 in Los Angeles, California. Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers have reportedly run out of patience with Luke Walton and look set to fire their head coach at the end of the season.

According to Marc Stein of The New York Times, the 38-year-old is set to be dismissed at the end of the campaign, which will presumably see the Lakers fail to miss out on the playoffs for the sixth consecutive year.

"The prevailing assumption in league coaching circles remains that Walton will almost certainly be dismissed after the season," Stein wrote.

The Lakers have lost their last three games and slipped to 30-34 for the season after losing 113-105 to the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night. They now sit 5.5 games behind the San Antonio Spurs, who currently occupy the final playoff berth in the Western Conference.

Bar an unlikely upturn in fortunes between now and April, the recent run of 10 losses in 15 games looks to have derailed the Lakers' season beyond the point of no return.

While there are some mitigating circumstances for Walton—chief among them the injuries that have beset his team regularly in the last few months—it is hard to deny he has underachieved.

The Lakers went 61-103 in Walton's first two seasons at the helm, but the arrival of LeBron James in July was expected to turn them into one of the top teams in the league. Instead, the Purple and Gold face the prospect of watching the playoffs on TV for another year.

While suggestions LeBron could reach the NBA Finals for the ninth consecutive season always seemed overly optimistic, the thought of him not guiding the Lakers to the playoffs would have been ridiculed at the beginning of the campaign.

The three-time NBA champion has never publicly criticized Walton, but at the end of January ESPN reported LeBron's camp wanted a coaching change.

That hasn't happened and Magic Johnson, the Lakers' president of basketball operations, reiterated Walton would not be fired "unless something drastic happens, which it won't."

According to The New York Times, the Lakers are mindful that replacing their coach now would achieve very little with just over a month left in the regular season.

However, they are expected to act in the summer, before re-igniting their quest to sign Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans. Los Angeles looked willing to trade almost half of its roster before the trade deadline in February to land the five-time All-Star, after he publicly requested to leave the Pelicans.

New Orleans did not budge and Davis will stay in Louisiana at least until the summer, when a number of franchises—including the Lakers, the Boston Celtics, the New York Knicks, the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Clippers—will make their move.

The Lakers look set for a major reset in the summer, but Walton is unlikely to be in town to oversee it.