The Los Angeles Lakers formally introduced Luke Walton as its head coach on Tuesday. The Lakers management opted to let go of Byron Scott last April 24 and officially hired Walton who had agreed to a five-year deal. The contract is estimated to be worth around $25 million.
The Lakers hopes to infuse Walton’s approach to their game and reinvigorate their performance next season. The past two seasons were particularly bad for the franchise where key players battled injuries, including Kobe Bryant playing only 35 games in the 2014 season that ended with a record of 21-61; the worst in Lakers history.
It’s been three long years since the Lakers had not been a playoff contender. With Kobe Bryant’s retirement, it needs to find new ways to revive its proud tradition and start winning again. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak had this to say about bringing Luke Walton back to L.A.:
“He’s one of the brightest young coaching minds in the game and we feel fortunate that he’ll be leading the on-court future of our team.”
For his part, Walton accepted the Lakers offer and called it his “dream job.” He is expected to finalize his coaching staff prior to the summer league in Las Vegas.
The addition of Luke Walton could mean that the Lakers would become a faster team next season. Much of the offensive style would be patterned similarly to the Golden State Warriors, which ventures into shots from behind the arc more than any other team in the NBA.
Luke Walton himself pointed out that his basketball philosophy is very much like Golden State’s Steve Kerr where he worked as an assistant coach. He says, “For the most part, we’re cut from the same type of cloth.” Many expect him to emulate their style, forming a rangy team of players that can speed up the game.
Former Laker superstar Kobe Bryant is expected to take part in the team build up and transition, but it is not clear yet what role he’ll be filling in.
The new coach further said about his new challenge, “Everything excites me. We have young talented players, we have draft picks, and we have $60-70 million in free agency, the greatest fans.”