There was a fair bit of skepticism that when Luke Walton's exit from the Los Angeles Lakers was framed as a mutual decision. After missing the playoffs with LeBron James in tow, a new coach became inevitable. The team needed a scapegoat. Rob Pelinka needed a way to consolidate his power after Magic Johnson's surprising resignation. James himself never seemed too fond of Walton. So nobody should be surprised that Dave McMenamin of ESPN is now reporting that Walton actually wanted to remain with the Lakers. This was a firing, not a mutual parting of the ways.

And it's worth wondering why the Lakers bothered with the flowery language. After all, calling the decision a firing would have allowed ownership to establish Pelinka's place as the team's new basketball decision-maker, which seems to be the case either way. Framing it as a mutual parting doesn't make the Lakers look particularly stable either. It indicates that both Walton and Johnson wanted to jump ship in a matter of days.

The easy explanation is that the Lakers wanted to earn some goodwill with other potential coaching candidates. Walton was known immediately to be a strong candidate to replace Dave Joerger with the Sacramento Kings. By making it seem as if they were allowing Walton to pursue another job rather than disposing of him and forcing him to find one, they may have hoped that coaches they are interested in pursuing would notice and appreciate their treatment of his predecessor. The Lakers wanted the world to believe they were doing Walton a favor.