Why Does Luke Walton Think He Will Be in Charge of the Lakers Next 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' season might have been a disaster but Luke Walton believes he will be in charge of the team by the time the next campaign begins.

Despite signing LeBron James in the summer, the 16-time NBA champions are 33-42 for the season and will miss the playoffs for the sixth consecutive year.

Walton is widely expected to be shouldering the lion's share of responsibilities for his team's failures. However, while rumors of him being replaced in the offseason have flourished in the last couple of months, he steadfastly believes he will again be on the Lakers bench next season.

"I fully expect to be coaching this team again next year," he told The Athletic.

Over the past month, the Lakers have been linked with a number of head coaches. Last week, Los Angeles Clippers' Doc Rivers denied rumors he could move across town, insisting he wants to remain with the franchise.

On Tuesday, Marc Stein of The New York Times reported that the Lakers were also keeping tabs on Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle and former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue.

Meanwhile, ESPN suggested former Milwaukee Bucks head coach Jason Kidd, was also in the frame to replace Walton.

Walton insisted he was not fazed by speculation over his job. "I just view it as outside noise," he explained. "Unless someone from within our group is telling me that, I just view it like all the other things we've gone through as a team this year. Those are things that I don't have the time to worry about. I've got more important things to do like getting the team better and doing my job."

Walton has received public support from a number of Lakers executives.

The team's President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka have both backed the coach, as has team owner Jeanie Buss.

Kidd also publicly backed Walton, suggesting his plans this season had been derailed by a string of injuries.

"What Luke's done in L.A. with all the injuries and everything that's gone on, I think he's done an incredible job," he told ESPN's The Jump this week.

"They have a process, they had a young team, and then LeBron comes and kind of sped up things. He wants to win now. But I think it takes time. Again, Luke was doing a great job at coaching those young guys and LeBron in the first year."

The Lakers were 20-14 on Christmas Day when they lost LeBron for 17 games following a road win against the Golden State Warriors, and never recovered.

By the time James returned against the Clippers at the beginning of February, the purple and gold were 26-25 and were further hamstrung by injuries to Rajon Rondo, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram.

While Walton has been unlucky with injuries, the results this season have fallen far below expectations.

A return to the postseason appeared little more than a formality after the Lakers signed LeBron in July. Instead, the three-time NBA champion will watch the postseason on TV for the first time since his second season in the league.

With a number of contracts due to expire in the summer, the Lakers will in all likelihood look very different next season, probably beginning with the man in charge.