Luke Walton takes over in Los Angeles to help guide the Lakers back to greatness.
Not a surprise to the majority of the basketball world, the Los Angeles Lakers announced that they will hire former-Laker and current World Champion Golden State Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton as their new head coach once the Warriors’ seasons ends. Impressive enough, Walton stepped in for Golden State on an interim basis when head coach Steve Kerr dealt with multiple back surgeries. On his watch, Walton was able to engrave on a resume lacking experience, the success of Golden State’s 24-0 season beginning, and a 39-4 overall record.
However, in Los Angeles and throughout that seem basketball world, don’t be surprised if this decision on the part of the Lakers is met with mixed emotions and/or skepticism. Nothing of it would be personal, Luke is a very good guy, media-friendly, humble and intelligent. He will also, no doubt, establish better relationships with the Lakers’ collection of young talent as a whole despite falling considerably short of the teaching knowledge that ex-coach Byron Scott possesses. But the anxiety amongst those concerned will come in the form of not the chosen, but the choosers. In the post-Phil era, the Laker brain trust (mainly Jim Buss & Mitch Kupchak) now have a track record of hires, Byron Scott and Mike D’Antoni (the worst and third-worst Laker head coaches respectively since the Lakers move to Los Angeles), and a guy I struggled to remember in Mike Brown. This hire will make the fifth head coaching change since the start of the 2011/2012 season. What’s more, there are some already connecting this move to the possible systematic return of Phil Jackson, which could happen if Walton’s success doesn’t come soon enough and Buss and Kupchak are sent packing if only by Buss’ own self-imposed three-year deadline to turns things around. Many die-hards would simply welcome anything that cleared the way for Magic Johnson to return the legendary purple and gold.
All-in-all, the Laker nation is still very uncertain about what the near-future holds (especially now that this legend-driven franchise has lost what may be their last legend for quite some time in Kobe Bryant), but the true fans won’t be able to help wishing Luke Walton well despite some of them now having their fill of Jim Buss, and his sidekick GM.
“I’m incredibly happy for Luke,” Steve Kerr said, responding to the news. “As we witnessed earlier this season, he has all of the intangibles necessary to be an outstanding head coach in this league, including a terrific understanding of the game the ability to communicate with a wide range of people. He’s certainly read for this opportunity, and I’m confident he’ll do a great job with the Lakers once our season is complete.”
Walton is now the eighth former Laker to return to coach the team, and set to become the youngest active NBA coach. Considered one of the brightest new NBA coaching talents — even to the point of finishing 8th in the voting of this year’s Coach of the Year honors despite the interim tag — Luke Walton, a southern California kid coming up, is a Laker family member for life and accepts this opportunity over other opportunities thought to be better ones opening within the coming year.