Yesterday the Los Angeles Lakers and Warriors’ assistant coach Luke Walton signed a five-year deal to make him the new coach of the Lakers, reportedly worth $25 million dollars. This comes as a surprise even though he has been sought after by NBA teams seemingly all season. Walton was on record and known to be comfortable in his role with the Golden State Warriors. He loved learning from head coach Steve Kerr and being able to work with a such a great team in the Warriors, the best team in NBA history. Plus who wouldn’t want to stick around and coach the best player in the game right now and the best shooter the game has ever seen, Stephen Curry. All season Walton leaned towards staying with Golden State for these reasons. He wanted to take his time knowing he would still be sought after in years to come after leading the Warriors to a 39-4 record as interim head coach when Kerr was out with postoperative migraines. No job was going to be good enough to take Walton away from how good he had it in Golden State with a front row pass to the best show in the NBA.
No job of course except for the job, back home to coach one of the most storied franchises in the NBA, the Los Angeles Lakers. Walton was an obvious choice for LA after the job he did in Golden State and how relatable he could be to the Lakers’ young stars. But LA was also the only real choice for Walton, who had always dreamed of being a head coach, and said, “The chance to do it for an organization like the Lakers doesn’t come around very often.” Walton is currently busy coaching the Warriors in the playoffs, but after his season with the Warriors ends, he will return to where his family is from to coach a team he won two NBA titles with, in 2009 and 2010. The news has gone over well with Laker fans who can rejoice in a beloved member of the Laker family returning home to be their savior. Although Walton has only coached 43 games in Kerr’s absence at the beginning of the season, he comes to LA with an amazing win-loss record as HC and a championship ring as an assistant coach.
The Warriors are in full support of Walton and that’s no surprise although they will miss him in Golden State. Kerr said he was shocked Walton was hired so soon but said, “He has all intangibles necessary” and “He’ll do a great job.” All-star forward Draymond Green responded to the news saying, “He’s [Walton] obviously a guy that we want around but…he deserved it and it’s a dream job for him.” Green went on further to say that it’s been important to him to have Walton around to vent to. Despite the fact the Warriors will miss having their assistant coach around, the organization and the players are happy for him.
Now, Walton faces the tough task of lifting up a proud struggling franchise coming off its worst season in team history in the wake of Kobe Bryant’s retirement. The good news is he will have some exciting young talent to build around and plenty of salary room to play with in free agency. Now that Walton is leading the troops, the Lakers will even have a chance at attracting some of the bigger names that they missed out on during last year. Walton seems confident he did not make the jump from assistant coach to head coach too soon and that he can get the Lakers back on track.