Walton’s job security has been the subject of speculation since general manager Monte McNair was hired to replace Vlade Divac in September, but Walton said the uncertainty doesn’t concern him. “It doesn’t weigh on me because it’s the same thing I always talk about — it’s control what you can control — the same message I give my players every day,” Walton said. “To me, the storyline and the focus of Sacramento right now should be on this team and the excitement of what we saw out of our young rookie in Tyrese and the progress that De’Aaron Fox made and the year Richaun Holmes and Harrison Barnes had, and even Buddy — watching Buddy continue to grow and start having games with seven or eight assists and low turnovers.
“That’s what we should be talking about as a group and as an organization. So if you ask me, I’ll tell you, no, I’m not concerned at all because it doesn’t do anything for me or the group to be concerned, so we’ll stay focused on the positive and the good things. Like I continue to say, I’m excited about this group and excited about our future.” The Kings went 31-41 to finish 12th in the Western Conference for the second year in a row. They missed the playoffs for the 15th consecutive season, matching the longest postseason drought in NBA history, but despite their struggles, there were some positive developments.
“I’m very pleased and excited with a lot of the progress we made from a team standpoint and individuals,” Walton said. “You go down the line and I could make a case that even guys like Harrison, who’ve had some really good years in their career, to me he was playing some of his best basketball. … You can go down the line and, to me, that’s something that’s working. “… Look, we’re all frustrated. We want to be part of a postseason. I know the organization does, the fans do, the media does, so that part of it is disappointing, but you’ve got to look at the good, too, and the progress that so many of these guys have made this year.”
As she pondered hiring Magic Johnson first as an advisor and subsequently to oversee the team’s basketball operations, Lakers governor Jeanie Buss pressed Johnson on one specific topic to make sure they held similar views. “What was important to me was how he felt about our coach, Luke Walton,” Buss said on a recent podcast with Forbes Sports Money. “Luke Walton is somebody I believe can be our coach for the next 10 or 15 years as long as we don’t kill him.”
June 21, 2021 | 5:57 pm EDT Update
Mark Medina: Clippers coach Ty Lue said Kawhi Leonard is out for Game 2. He added Marcus Morris Sr. “is still experiencing soreness” and “getting treatment around the clock.” His status unclear for Game 2
Law Murray: Tyronn Lue says that Rajon Rondo’s “pace” is very important, especially with Leonard out. Sounds like he’ll continue in a similar role tomorrow as we saw in Game 1 yesterday. “Rondo brings more than scoring and shooting… we need all of the other intangibles that he brings.”
June 21, 2021 | 5:16 pm EDT Update
Brian Windhorst: Ben Simmons is doubtful to play for Australia in Tokyo Olympics, sources said. Will spend offseason working on skill development. Aussies scheduled to begin training this week in L.A.