Former NBA player Luke Walton has landed a head coaching job with the LA Lakers. Walton played 9 seasons with the Lakers, winning two NBA titles with the team.
The Lakers formally introduced the 36-year-old Walton, 53 days after the team hired the Golden State assistant coach to lead their rebuilding from the worst season in franchise history.
Walton said he was excited to return to the Lakers and be part of a rebuilding process.
Walton was previously Steve Kerr’s assistant coach on the Golden State Warriors that lost in the NBA finals to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Walton took over the early season for the Warriors, while Kerr was out for back issues, and led Golden State to a 24-0 start that eventually stretched to 39-4.
The Lakers have left behind a 17-65 season, and a retired Kobe Bryant. Walton sees good opportunity for the team to rise.
“I think we’re in an exciting time,” Walton said. “We have extremely talented young players. We have a ton of money to spend in free agency. We have draft picks this year, and the fact that Mitch and Jimmy Buss trusted me with this, in being part of this rebuilding, post-Kobe era, just means the world to me.”
“We’re going to put our stamp on the culture that we want,” Walton said. “It’s going to be joy. Our players are going to like coming into practice every day. We’re going to play a brand of basketball that LA fans will appreciate. … We have money to spend. I know the Buss family and I know the Laker organization, and they’re going to do what it takes to win. To me, that’s all you really need to know. ”
Walton believes that his successful unofficial coaching stint with Golden State Warriors, helped him to get offered the head coach position at LA Lakers.
“That’s the decision that was made, but 0-0 still helped me get my dream job,” Walton said. “Looking back on it now, I would pay a salary to coach under Steve and learn under Steve, and to steal those ideas that he used up in Oakland. I’m putting all those into who I am as a coach now.”
Luke Walton chuckled when asked about his voluble father’s declaration in an interview that he shouldn’t have taken the Lakers job. Luke noted that his father didn’t even want him to get into coaching, believing the lifestyle was too tough.
“I love my father,” Walton said. “Sometimes he has great advice, and sometimes he doesn’t. … You’ll see him in the hallways wearing Laker shirts that are too small for him.”
Walton played 11 years in the NBA with LA Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers. He helped the Lakers win back-to-back NBA titles in 2009 and 2010.
Walton averaged career high 11.4 ppg and 5.0 rpg for LA Lakers in 2006-07 season. Career wise, Walton played a total of 564 NBA games (138 started), averaging 4.7 points and 2.8 rebounds per game.
After finishing his NBA career, Walton worked for the LA Lakers’ D-league affiliate team as a player development coach, then as the Lakers’ analyst on Time Warner Cable Sports Network. Walton also was named an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors in 2014.
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