Luke Walton Has Good News And Bad News
Let Him Tell You About His New Job
May 5, 2016
Luke Walton called Steve Kerr last Friday afternoon.
“I have good news and bad news,” the Golden State Warriors’ assistant coach told the head coach.
“Start with the good news,” Kerr said.
“The Lakers have offered me their head coaching job,” Walton said.
“That’s great,’ replied Kerr. ‘I’m so happy for you. What’ the bad news?”
“The bad news is I took it.”
That conversation sums up the fact that Walton, who played for the Lakers in nine mostly successful seasons and had a 39-4 record this season in coaching the Warriors while Kerr recovered from back surgery will be taking a team coming off the two worst seasons in the Lakers’ 68-year history.
Kerr won’t have Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson or Dramond Green. Or Kobe Bryant. But almost every NBA assistant coach hopes to become a head coach.
Walton will have a five-year contract at $5 million per season with four years guaranteed.
By contrast, outgoing coach Byron Scott had a four-year contract at $4 million per season with three years guaranteed.
Although Scott won’t coach the Lakers next season he’ll be paid $4 million.
When Walton met with Laker owner Jim Buss and General Manager Mitch Kupchak on Friday he was impressed with their goals.
“They know what they want,” said Walton. “They talked about the players they’re going after.”
That sounds good but it’s important to remember the Lakers didn’t get any of the marquee free agents they wanted before the just-concluded season, which led to their dismal 17-65 record..
The Lakers have a lot of money to spend. But so do most NBA teams because each one gets $20 million from the league’s latest television contract.
There’s also the matter that the Lakers might have a new front office team a year from now. Jim Buss has said he’ll leave if the Lakers aren’t a serious contender for a high playoff position next season.
Considering that the team has been awful in all four of his seasons the chances aren’t good they’re going to finish high in next season’s standings.
The rumor is that Phil Jackson will run the Lakers’ front office a year from now when he can escape his contract with the New York Knicks. A new boss would most likely bring in his choice of a general manager, replacing Kupchak.
But Walton credits his Laker ties in accepting the job rather than interviewing with other teams.
He said he rooted for the Lakers this season even though he was instrumental in the Warriors’ success.
“The Lakers wanted to get a deal done fast and so did I,” said Walton. “Once our meeting went well I had my agent finalize the agreement. We got it done in one day.”
Walton will remain with the Warriors throughout the current playoffs. Then he’ll devote his efforts to the Lakers.
Walton said he doesn’t intend to have the Lakers run the triangle offense they ran when he played for teams Jackson coached.
So it’s a new challenge for the 36-year-old well-liked Walton, the son of former UCLA and Laker great Bill Walton.
Wish him luck. He’s going to need it.