Luke Walton: I fully expect to be coaching the Lakers again next season

Luke Walton believes he’ll be back in Los Angeles next season.

Reports have surfaced that the Lakers are planning to fire their third-year coach after 2018-19. Walton, however, told The Athletic this week he’s not thinking that way.

“I fully expect to be coaching this team again next year,” Walton said.

The Lakers reportedly will consider hiring former Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue if they let go of Walton this offseason. They’ve also been linked to Rick Carlisle and Jason Kidd.

Walton said he wasn’t focusing on the speculation.

“I just view it as outside noise,” Walton told The Athletic. “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.”

LeBron James left the Cavaliers and signed a four-year, $153.3 million contract with Los Angeles last July. But, the Lakers have struggled and are already out of playoff contention.

“There’s different rumors and everything else,” Walton said. “Unless some kind of information comes from someone within our organization, I don’t pay attention to it and I don’t concern myself with the rumors.”

Los Angeles entered play Wednesday with a 33-41 record.