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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Why Luke Walton could be the right fit for the Los Angeles Lakers

Dan Honda/Bay Area News Group/TN
The Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry (30) confers with interim head coach Luke Walton against the Denver Nuggets in the first half of a preseason game at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015.

The wickedness of the Los Angeles Lakers season took an expected turn in firing head coach Byron Scott Sunday after posting two of the franchises worst seasons back-to-back.

Los Angeles is desperate for a head coach, but fortunately for the front office, there’s an aspiring young coach waiting for a head coaching vacancy by the name of Luke Walton.

Initially, Lakers fans may feel like they’re taking a blast to the past six years ago when Walton was riding the bench during the back-to-back championship run in 2009 and 2010. Walton wasn’t posting the wowing statistics that catches one’s attention, but sometimes the student that studies the teacher’s craft ends up becoming a better teacher.

Walton played under hall-of-fame head coach Lute Olson at Arizona, Phil Jackson in Los Angeles and is currently the assistant coach under Steve Kerr with the Golden State Warriors. Three notable coaches who groomed Walton to enter the big stage prove that maybe this coaching thing is perfect for him.

Walton comes off as inexperienced, but he also led the Warriors to a 24-0 start, which was the best start in NBA history. On the flip side, how much was that actually Walton coaching when Steve Kerr was in his ear off the court and arguably the best shooter in NBA history in Stephen Curry is in his prime? Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding told ESPN 710 AM in Los Angeles that Phil Jackson distinguishes that Walton is capable of being a head coach even though some outsiders may disagree.

“He’s sharper than people think,” Ding said. “He’s not necessarily top of the line and he does have limited coaching experience, but by the same token a guy like Phil Jackson would not endorse him as basketball savvy if he was not—he just wouldn’t.”

Jackson has 13 rings combined as a player and a head coach so he’s been around the block a few times so his insight is more credible than the average NBA figure. Walton going to the Lakers is written on the wall and is destined to happen especially with the new era of franchise players stepping up the plate after Kobe Bryant rode off into the retirement sunset.

“There are so many pieces that fit perfectly to have Luke come to the Lakers,” Ding said.

D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr. are the four young core players the Lakers. Of those four, the oldest players are Nance and Clarkson who are both 23-years-old so with a youthful coach like Walton taking insight from previous coaches especially Jackson, there isn’t a better fit for Los Angeles.

“He’s just such a great fit for the Lakers family—it shows respect to the past in regards to Phil [Jackson],” Ding said. “The guy is 36-years-old and can relate to these Millennials that are on the Lakers roster. It makes so much to me and whatever concerns people have about, I think that it might be valid to some extent, but who else out there is going to give you so much in one package?”

For now, Walton is enjoying Golden State’s quest for back-to-back titles, but General Manager is menacingly rubbing his hands for any chance to talk to the former Laker and the potential captain of the ship that is one of the premiere sports franchises in the world.

Follow Justin Spears on Twitter

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