Walton, who has two years remaining on his deal, did “an incredible job under a lot of challenging circumstances,” according to Buss.
The Lakers, despite the acquisition of LeBron James, missed the postseason for a franchise-record sixth consecutive year.
“I’m not going to give you the answer to that question,” Buss said when asked about Walton remaining as coach in her appearance on the Sports Business Radio Road Show on Tuesday at Loyola Marymount University.
The former 10-year veteran, drafted by L.A. with the 32nd pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, was brought in when Jeanie’s brother, Jim Buss, and general manager Mitch Kupchak were running the front office. Less than a year into Walton’s time on the sideline, however, Lakers president Magic Johnson and GM Rob Pelinka were hired to replace the previous regime.
“There’s a whole other chapter of my life where I was, for 15 years, the significant other of coach Phil Jackson. And Phil used to say, ‘Bill Walton may be Luke’s dad, but Luke is my son.’ … It was a very Star Wars-y kind of thing,” Buss said. “But Luke has always been someone that, he came to the Lakers as a rookie, the last year of Shaq (Shaquille O’Neal) and Kobe (Bryant). So he kind of bridged two Lakers teams in the Shaq-Kobe era and then in what you would call the Kobe-Pau (Gasol) era.
“And he is somebody, I think, who doesn’t even realize what a natural he is and that leadership that he has, in terms of getting people, connecting with people and all ages. And I think he’s done a terrific job.”