Steve Kerr expressed disappointment for LeBron James over the Lakers being eliminated early from playoff contention, but Kerr praised L.A. coach Luke Walton for the way he’s handled the season and “the storm that has been thrown” at his team.
This season marks only the third time in James’ 16-season career that the four-time MVP has missed the postseason. After entering the season with high hopes, the Lakers hold a 35-43 record and are sitting 11th in the Western Conference heading into Thursday’s game against the Warriors.
“We got so used to playing him in Cleveland and when a star player changes uniforms it always takes them a while to get used to it,” Kerr told reporters. “I’m disappointed for him and for the Lakers. I want everybody to be healthy every year. It’s better for the league, it’s better for all the people involved.”
Steve Kerr on the weird feeling he has that LeBron James won’t be playing in the playoffs. Kerr also praises Luke Walton for how he has handled this season pic.twitter.com/re0V8r6QVm
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) April 4, 2019
The Lakers dealt with several setbacks this season as much of their roster was injured at some point during the season. James (groin), Brandon Ingram (shoulder), Lonzo Ball (ankle) and Josh Hart (knee) have been shut down for the season. Co-owner Jeanie Buss says the Lakers had their entire squad available to play in just five games all season.
Kerr said he isn’t concerned about the future of the Lakers, and believes Walton, his former assistant, has done a good job of keeping the team together.
“Luke is one of my best friends and it’s been a tough season to try and navigate and so I feel bad for everyone involved. But like I said, it’s sort of part of it,” Kerr added. “He’s holding up fine. Luke is born for this job, he really is. Not only his basketball mind, which is top notch, but the guy has as good of a feel for the game than anybody I’ve ever been around.
“His temperament is perfect for this job, for this league. There’s just so many ups and downs that you have to be relatively even keeled in this position, otherwise you’re just going to wear yourself out so I think Luke’s done a great job keeping poise and keeping his team playing.”
The Lakers haven’t made the postseason since 2012-13, but were optimistic they could make a run after signing James to a four-year contract during the offseason.