Even though the announcement was made nearly two months ago, new Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton hadn't reported for duty until Wednesday as he finished his job as the lead assistant for the Golden State Warriors.
Shortly after experiencing the dejection of losing Game 7 of the NBA Finals after completing the best regular season ever, Walton turned the page and got ready for his new position in L.A.
It's going to be a huge change of scenery for Walton, going from one of the best teams in league history to perhaps the worst in the illustrious history of the Lakers.
Luke is up for the challenge.
“I'm so excited to get after it here,” said Walton, who played nine seasons and won two titles as a Lakers forward.
“I think we're in an exciting time,” Walton said. “We have extremely talented young players. We have a ton of money to spend in free agency. We have draft picks this year, and the fact that Mitch and Jimmy Buss trusted me with this, in being part of this rebuilding, post-Kobe era, just means the world to me.”
Walton was one of the hottest names on the head coaching market this past year, in large part because of the Warriors' success with him at the helm as Steve Kerr recovered from back surgery for the first half of the season. Golden State started the year 19-0, and ended with a 39-4 record under him.
Walton hopes to establish a similar kind of winning culture with the Purple & Gold, something the franchise is very used to.
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“We're going to put our stamp on the culture that we want,” Walton said. “It's going to be joy. Our players are going to like coming into practice every day. We're going to play a brand of basketball that LA fans will appreciate. … We have money to spend. I know the Buss family and I know the Laker organization, and they're going to do what it takes to win. To me, that's all you really need to know. I don't see why you wouldn't want to come here.”
It didn't take long for Walton to get involved in his first big move with the organization. After meeting with members of the front office for three hours, it was decided that the Lakers will select Brandon Ingram with the second overall pick in tomorrow' NBA draft, assuming Ben Simmons goes to the Sixers first overall.
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