Mitch Kupchak has maintained, in his way, he'd rather the Lakers be awful than invested in mediocre. Clock is ticking though…
— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) April 29, 2016
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Yeah man…Is what it is with Myles Jack, but him going to the New York Post and talking Microfracture Surgery…not the sensible thing to do.
And Dr.Andrews coming out today saying he does not need Microfracture Surgery…Why is his agent not on top of this? Like yesterday, when he saw Doc Andrews in December.
This can happen with bad representation, brother.
Tunsil lost 10 Mil based on projections. Jack lost 7.
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— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) April 29, 2016
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By Darius Soriano for Forum Blue and Gold
The Lakers have already received permission to interview Spurs assistant coach Ettore Messina, but he is not their only target who is currently assisting a league powerhouse hoping to make a run to the championship. The other, of course, is the Warriors’ Luke Walton and the Lakers have moved quickly to get permission to interview their former 2nd round draft pick as well.
ESPN’s Marc Stein has the story:
Steve Kerr, who was named the NBA Coach of the Year on Tuesday, revealed before Wednesday night’s series-clinching Game 5 win over the Houston Rockets that the Lakers can meet with Walton as soon as a break in the Warriors’ schedule arises.
“We told Mitch that he’s perfectly welcome to talk to Luke as soon as the series is over and we have a little break,” Kerr said of Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak.
Walton has long been considered the front-runner for the Lakers’ job and the favorite among a large contingent of Lakers’ fans. His combination of youth (he’s only 36), basketball IQ, Lakers’ pedigree, and current position as assistant on a historically great team check many of the right boxes for an organization looking to start anew and rebuild from what has been a horrid run in the last three seasons.
There is a flip side to these strengths, however, and many will be quick to point to these exact traits as question marks regarding his candidacy.
Being only 36, Walton is quite young and does not possess a great deal of coaching experience beyond what he’s earned as Steve Kerr’s assistant. “Lakers’ pedigree” sounds appealing on the surface, but this team just got done winning 38 games in two seasons under a former Showtime guard whose major strength was supposed to be knowing “what it means to be a Laker”.
Further, this is Walton’s first year as Kerr’s lead assistant — a role he filled after Alvin Gentry departed for the Pelicans last summer. Walton did an excellent job standing in for a sidelined Kerr to start the year (Kerr dealt with complications from multiple back surgeries over the summer), but Luke would be the first to tell you much of what he did with the team was continuing the program Kerr established.
Detractors of Walton’s candidacy, then, will be quick to point out we simply do not know a lot about how good a coach Walton is. They will reduce his run as Kerr’s stand-in to taking over the wheel of a car on cruise control and cite his relative inexperience.
I don’t think you can totally dismiss this line of thinking, but believe taking this approach too seriously is a disservice to Walton by not taking into account the path he’s taken to get to where he’s gotten.
Folks have forgotten that Luke was acting as a de facto assistant coach while nursing a bad back under Phil Jackson. Kobe used to actually joke with Luke that his path to coaching would be very similar to Phil’s who, in his playing career, suffered a back injury and got a taste of coaching preparation while playing for Red Holzman.
After his playing career, Walton served as a player development coach for the Lakers D-League affiliate D-Fenders and sat on the staff of the NCAA Memphis Tigers’ team for a year during the NBA’s lockout of 2011. And now he works under Kerr and guided the Warriors to a 39-4 record while Kerr recovered. From a Ken Berger profile of Walton in December:
Kerr, still recovering from complications that arose out of offseason back surgery and condemned him to debilitating headaches, empowered his players and coaches to make decisions. It’s the best compliment a coach can earn, that he created a winning culture that can run without him.
But that doesn’t mean it could’ve run this well with anybody standing on the sideline — or that Walton, 35, has nothing whatsoever to do with it.
“Luke is a genuine guy,” Draymond Green said. “He’s the same guy he was as an assistant coach, and guys respect that. It goes a long way, for sure.”
I am not of the mind just any person could have accomplished what Luke did with the Warriors this year. The Berger profile linked to above talks about the value add of Walton’s calm and steady demeanor, especially in the face of the big moment. There’s no panic in Walton and that aids itself to being able to deliver the type of messaging necessary in the tense moments of games — and, with the Warriors, in their pursuit of history when they were after the all-time consecutive wins streak to start the year.
This demeanor would also serve him well in the face of the Lakers’ current circumstances. A young team needs a steady and deliberate voice to shepherd them forward. They need stability and an understanding that they cannot get too high or low as they look to find their path in the league. They will have moments of doubt that come from the peaks and valleys most every young player experiences in the league. Walton — with his history of player development and in being exposed, front and center, to the habits which make up a historically great team — can be the exact type of guide they need to progress into the players they hope to be.
Yes, there’s a lot we do not fully know about Walton. We don’t know what type of offense he’d run, though assuming some mixture of Triangle and the motion heavy actions the Warriors run would be a good place start. We don’t have a lot of background on what his defensive philosophies are, though I’d guess he would be heavily influenced by what Ron Adams and Steve Kerr have implemented with the Warriors. I think, more than other potential candidates, who Walton would have on his staff as assistants would be very important to his and the team’s success.
In saying all that, however, I would fully endorse Walton were he to end up being the hire. I just see too many positives, the potential to grow with a team, and be the long term solution as head coach to not take a chance on him. Of course, we need to see how this process plays out — there has not even been an interview, nor an offer, and both sides would need to see this as the right fit. Like Messina, though, getting in the room with Walton to pick his brain and feel out what that relationship would look like is a great start. I am anxious to see how this goes.
— Silver Screen & Roll (@LakersSBN) April 29, 2016
From the above article:
Many claimed that Luke was following orders from Kerr and therefore was not truly the one winning. This is what Kerr had to say to ESPN.com in response to this claim,
“I think it’s ridiculous,” He said. “I’m sitting in the locker room and watching the games on TV, and I’m not even traveling to most of the road games. Luke’s doing all the work with the rest of the staff. Luke is [19-0] right now. I’m not. So it’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard, to be honest with you. I don’t even understand it.”
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Report: Kings willing to trade DeMarcus Cousins because his moodiness bothers teammates https://t.co/Cjf9s25dzD
— Kurt Helin (@basketballtalk) April 29, 2016
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Bazemore better ask for that money this summer…. #NBAPlayoffs
— Andre Drummond (@AndreDrummondd) April 29, 2016
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— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) April 29, 2016
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Here's Shaq & Chuck wrestling (& breaking furniture) in the @NBAonTNT studio.
— Complex Sports (@Complex_Sports) April 29, 2016
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The Celtics have 8 draft picks if they opt to keep them all.
The Knicks have 0 unless they buy a 2nd-round pick.
— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) April 29, 2016
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BY THEARMOTRADER FOR SILVER SCREEN AND ROLL
It was November 19, 1981, and the Los Angeles Lakers were sitting coachless.
Dr. Jerry Buss had just released Paul Westhead, their coach who had led them to a title just 2 years prior. The situation was murky at best. The Lakers had underperformed in the playoffs in the season before, and Magic Johnson wasn’t happy with Westhead and his coaching tactics. According to Dr. Buss, Jerry had “already decided to fire him” before Magic’s ”me or him” demand. Whatever the reason, Jerry Buss took bold initiative to let go a pretty successful coach (Westhead had a championship and a career 111-50 coaching record).
The following day, Jerry Buss had a press conference to introduce the new head coach. Part of Jerry’s displeasure was the fact that the Lakers played slow and not a “particular brand of basketball [Jerry had] grown accustomed to.”
So he wanted, or needed, to make a change. Dr. Buss could have easily looked for an experienced coach, and to be fair, he did install Jerry West (who himself wasn’t all that experienced, despite coaching the Lakers for 3 years before Westhead) as the “offensive coach” (amidst heavy confusion, no doubt). But Dr. Buss stuck with his decision and decided to let assistant coach Pat Riley take the helm with Jerry West’s help.
Pat Riley was a former Laker who won a championship with the 1972 team with Wilt, West, and Goodrich. Before that, he played at the University of Kentucky for legendary coach Adolph Rupp. As a junior (his 2nd year on the “varsity team”), Riley lost in the championship game. In the NBA, Riley was mostly a role player during his 9 years in the league. He averaged 7.4 PPG, 1.6 RPG, and 1.7 APG. He dealt with injuries during his career. However, he was a fan favorite off the bench with the Lakers (and earned the nickname “Riles”).
After coach Jack McKinney became severely injured, Pat Riley moved down from the broadcast booth to the sidelines in order to help Paul Westhead as an assistant. 2 years after moving down, Pat Riley was pushed into the spotlight as Lakers head coach – at the ripe age of 36. The team proceeded to win 17 of the next 20 games. Pat Riley spent the next 9 years in LA, where he won 5 championships.
So what does this all have to do with Jim Buss? Let me ask you a question, as you were reading the previous two paragraphs, did somebody else come to mind, aside from Pat Riley?
Well, if he didn’t, let me introduce you to him.
There’s this fellow who goes by the name of Luke Walton. Luke Walton played his college basketball at the University of Arizona, where he played under legendary head coach Lute Olson. As a sophomore (his 2nd year), Luke Walton lost in the national championship game.
Luke Walton spent most of his career with the Lakers, where he was mostly a role player (as evidenced by his 4.7 PPG, 2.8 RPG, and 2.3 APG averages). He won a championship twice with LA, alongside Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Lamar Odom. During his time there, he was praised for his high basketball IQ, and was mostly a fan favorite during the times he could play (as evidenced by the many “Luuuuuuukkkkeee” chants).
After retiring from basketball, Luke Walton spent some time in broadcast, on the Lakers Time Warner Sportsnet network. He then slowly began his foray into coaching by dabbling with some low-level coaching positions (most notably, his position with the D-Fenders as a player development coach).
But suddenly found himself as a top assistant with one of the hottest teams in basketball – the Golden State Warriors. While he didn’t take over the previous coach, Luke did take over the reins temporarily and the team saw immediate success – going 39-4 during his time as head coach. He did this all as a 36-year-old.
Now, I’m not too much of a believer of destiny, but if there was one thing, in the universe of basketball that was ‘destined’ to happen, it’s for Luke Walton to become the next head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. Luke should’ve been on the Lakers coaching staff two years ago, but I guess it’s funny how this thing called destiny works.
Jim Buss already made the correct decision to let go of Byron Scott - just as his Jerry Buss did over 30 years ago with Paul Westhead.
Now Jim needs to take another page out of his dad’s book and hire Luke Walton - just as Jerry Buss did over 30 years ago with Pat Riley.
Luke Walton is nearly the perfect candidate, as he provides an “incredible fusion of youth, upside, experience, team connection and pedigree“. While I really respect Ettore Messina and can see the upside in hiring some of the other rumored candidates, I think Luke Walton should be the clear cut number one option. It’s Jim’s prerogative to bring him back to Southern California.
Come home Luke, it’s destiny. The Lakers need you.
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