Was letting go of Luke Walton a bad decision by the Lakers?

Apr 16, 2019
PHOTO: AP

THREE years ago, before the 2016-17 NBA season, Luke Walton signed on to be the head coach of the young core of the Los Angeles Lakers to provide the team some stability.

While Walton and his raw Lakeshow made unexpectedly great strides in their first two seasons together, LeBron James' signing last year during free agency changed the team’s, the organization’s, and the city’s expectations.

Of course, we all saw Walton coach the team in the entirety of 2018-19 season. But it was evident very early on that he was not going to be a part of the team’s long-term plans.

And that was later confirmed as Luke Walton was let go by the Lakers, and he has now signed a multi-year deal to become the head coach of his new home in the Sacramento Kings. Sure, that may be well and good for the Lakers as they look to restart, but Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr feels that the Lakers made a critical mistake.

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“In the NBA you are 100 percent dependent on your circumstances, the strength of your organization, the momentum, the unity, everything has to be in good order,” Kerr said in a post-practice interview. “Because if it’s not, as we’ve witnessed with the Lakers, there’s going to be casualties and usually the coach is the first one.

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“They’re losing one of the best human beings in the NBA. They’re losing a guy who knows the game as good as anybody I’ve ever met. They’re losing somebody who players believe in, players want to play for.”

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    Of course, Walton joined Kerr’s coaching staff prior to the 2014-15 season as an assistant coach for the Warriors. And, when Kerr had to take an indefinite leave of absence, Walton became the interim head coach and led Steph Curry and company to a 39-4 start. That’s the second-best in NBA history, by the way.

    While there are debates about Walton’s coaching, the Kings will provide him an opportunity similar to the one he initially had with the Lakers, but maybe for a much longer time. As the Kings are not the most prominent and stable franchise in the league, everyone’s hoping that Walton gets enough time to develop their young core.

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    PHOTO: AP
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