Before he was hired as the newest head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, Luke Walton was the hottest name on the free agent coaching market.
While Walton is currently serving out his tenure as Golden State Warriors head coach, he literally had interest from every team looking to fill a head coach void. Yet, as soon as he was allowed to interview for the Lakers’ job, he immediately accepted it.
The question is, why would a coveted coach coming from the best team in NBA history go to one of the worst franchises in the league?
The Lakers are a 17-65 team that have progressively gotten worse over the past three seasons. As they move on from the Kobe Bryant era, the team has some nice young pieces, but no player has shown that ability to be a true franchise player.
But according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, that is exactly why Walton chose the job—the challenge to revive the Lakers.
It’s a franchise he won two championships with, it’s an organization he played nine years for, and it’s a fan base he’s all too familiar with.
Where some coaches see a franchise dead in the water, Walton sees potential. It was recently reported he believes both D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle have the talent to be All-Stars. When you factor in capable rotation players such as Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. and the fact that the Lakers might have a top 3 pick in this year’s draft, Los Angeles could surprise some in the very near future.
Shelburne states that the Lakers’ job has always been Walton’s dream:
“It’s probably the only job he would’ve left Golden State for. Yes, he planned to interview elsewhere for the experience. You never know if one of those jobs would’ve piqued his interest. But being head coach of the Lakers has been his dream ever since Phil Jackson used to let him sit in on coaches meetings when he was a role player for the franchise from 2003-11.”
This is the best choice the Lakers could have possibly made for a head coach. Walton is a young coach coming from the most successful basketball team in NBA history. It’s not just that he has the winning pedigree on his resume, it’s the fact that he has a true love and connection with the franchise that makes the pairing almost perfect.
While no one will know if Walton will lead Los Angeles back to its glory days, they at least know he’s coming back with the full intention of reviving a once proud franchise.