Kerr on Lakers firing Walton: ‘They are losing one of the best human beings in the NBA’

Steve Kerr (right) backed Luke Walton, who was fired as Lakers coach this week.

Steve Kerr doesn’t see Luke Walton’s departure from the Los Angeles Lakers as an indictment on Walton, but on the Lakers’ franchise.

The Golden State Warriors coach heaped praise on Walton, his former assistant, who left three seasons ago to take the Lakers’ job, a position he lost this week after LeBron James & Co. went 37-45 and failed to make the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season.

“They are losing one of the best human beings in the NBA,” Kerr told reporters after practice Friday according to Mark Medina of the San Jose Mercury News. “They’re losing a guy who knows the game as well as anybody I’ve ever met. They’re losing somebody who players believe in and players that want to play for. But again, he was dependent on circumstances just like all of us.

“I feel for Luke. I feel fortunate to have the set of circumstances here where we’ve got wonderful people stabilizing our organization every day. I’m lucky to be in this position and to be surrounded by these people. It doesn’t happen often in the NBA.”

James missed 17 games with a left groin injury and the Lakers, as a whole, missed a combined 210 games because of injuries, including those to Lonzo Ball (ankle) and Brandon Ingram (blood clot in shoulder) that ended their respective seasons.

Team president Magic Johnson stunned the basketball world by announcing he was stepping down before the Lakers’ season finale against Portland on Tuesday night at Staples Center.

“I’m disappointed for Luke. In this job as a coach in the NBA, you are 100 percent dependent on your circumstances, the strength of your organization and the momentum,” Kerr said. “Everything has to be in good order. If it’s not, as we have witnessed with the Lakers, there’s going to be casualties and usually the coach is the first one.”