Luke Walton 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, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers will likely be looking to make plenty of changes once they miss the 2019 NBA playoffs, and that could start with the head coach. There have been rumors for much of the season that Luke Walton’s job might be in jeopardy, and those rumblings are only growing stronger as L.A. continues to struggle.

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said on his radio show Thursday afternoon that Walton will be done as the head coach after the season is over.

“I’m told (general manager) Rob Pelinka’s safe. He and Magic (Johnson) are on the same page. Luke Walton’s gone. He won’t be the coach next year,” Smith said. “This is what you hear coming out of Lakers’ camp.”

Walton is headed for his third straight losing season as the Lakers’ head coach. Los Angeles dropped to 30-35 and 6.5 games out of the playoff race with Wednesday night’s 115-99 loss at home to the Denver Nuggets.

There is often a sense that LeBron James’ head coaches are always one bad stretch away from being on the hot seat, and Walton is no exception. Even before the season started, Walton was given the top betting odds to be the first NBA coach fired this year.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported in early November that Magic Johnson admonished Walton for the Lakers’ slow start, indicating that Walton’s job could be in trouble if the team didn’t have a quick turnaround. After a 2-5 start to the year, Los Angeles won nine of their next 11 games.

ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan reported in late January on the “Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective” podcast that James’ camp preferred there to be a coaching change. The Lakers were 25-24 at that point.

Smith noted that the Lakers won’t make a change at the very top with Pelinka and Johnson still trying to create a championship roster for 2020. The pair failed to trade for Anthony Davis at the trade deadline, and they are expected to revisit those talks with the New Orleans Pelicans this offseason.

The Lakers have had five head coaches since Phil Jackson retired in 2012.