After less than a week of searching for new coaches, and one trashed coaching candidate piece by yours truly, the Lakers have found their new head coach in Luke Walton. As first reported by @HowardBeck
Luke Walton has agreed to become the next head coach of the Lakers, sources tell BR.
— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) April 30, 2016
and confirmed by @KevinDing of BR
Lakers have agreed to terms with Luke Walton to be their next head coach, according to team sources.
— KEVIN DING (@KevinDing) April 30, 2016
The Lakers and Luke Walton agreed to a 5 year deal for 25 million deal with his former team to lead the Lakers back to the promise land. Walton was the favorite from the start, and it seemed he was the only candidate that the Lakers interviewed. After an extensive six hour interview with Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak and Lakers President of Basketball Operations Jim Buss, both sides clearly were on the same page. It seemed prior reports of potential interviews with Ettore Messina and David Blatt were plan B and C respectively.
Personally, Luke was my favorite option, and felt that he proved he was ready after an incredible 39-4 start, including starting the season 24-0 as an interim coach with the Golden State Warriors. You can make the case that the Warriors were going to be that good regardless of their head coach, but that is not necessarily true. It’s so hard for interim coaches to take over and not only be successful, but have fewer losses (4) than the actual head coach (5). No matter how great of a team you have, you still need someone to call timeouts at the correct time or create successful out of bounds plays. It was not a coincidence that the Warriors started out so historically.
Confucius say Patience
With all the excitement of Luke being hired, Laker fans must remember one thing. The Lakers are still very young, and very inexperienced. As of now the Lakers only have D’Angelo Russell, Anthony Brown, Julius Randle, Nick Young, Lou Williams, and Larry Nance Jr. under contract. For those who ask about Clarkson? Clarkson is a restricted free agent, but the Lakers will more than likely resign him. The Lakers have a ton of work this off season. They still have to find out what will happen with our draft pick on May 17th. The Lakers also need to find out if the hiring of Luke will improve our standing with a very good free agent market to be. Last, and this is just for this season alone, Walton needs to fill out his assistant crew, as well as get right to work with his young players. If everything goes our way, we keep the pick, sign a couple of big name free agents, and get the assistants we need. There is still a chance that it will take a season or two to get back to the top of a very top heavy western conference.
This is where I must stress patience to my fellow Laker fans. I know I’ve been with you for the last 3 years, 4 if you include the Dwight Howard debacle, and it’s been awful. Constant failure for a franchise that has never been out of the playoffs for more than 2 seasons has been a new experience for all of us. Building a team the way that Jim and Mitch have, is also a new experience for all of us. So I stress again the Laker fans must have patience. The light is certainly at the end of the tunnel now, but we still must weather a few storms to reach it. What happens 18 days from now can either get us closer to the end of that tunnel or slow us a bit, but regardless we need to hang on for a bit more. The hiring of Luke is a massive step in the right direction, but it’s still going to take time. Walton has already stated that he likes the young core calling Randle and Russell perennial all-stars. He already seems to know this team very well and sounds like he has a good idea as to what he wants to do with the team. He also seems to understand that this won’t be an easy process.
Prescription to keep you sane
I’ve already seen quite a few of you saying that if the Laker’s don’t get 40+ wins than it will be a failed season, and this is just outrageous considering we don’t have a full roster yet. Laker fans should go into the remaining stepping stones of this off season with a singular mentality. Be excited for the hiring of Luke and what he brings to this franchise, but hope for the best and prepare for the worst. If the ping pong balls fall just shy of the 3rd pick, well it sucks but we still have a solid young core to build on. If the big name free agents spurn us another year, and no I’m not talking about Kevin Durant, again we have a solid young core that has 2 budding super stars, 1 potential star, and 1 absolutely solid role player. All we need to want and anticipate as Laker’s fans is Luke Walton continuing to develop this young team. With teachings from Lute Olson, Phil Jackson, Gregg Popovich, and most recently Steve Kerr. Luke has a real good chance as being the next great Laker coach. All we need to do as Laker’s fans is give him that chance.