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Friday, August 26, 2011
Luke Walton eager to test coaching chops

By Eamonn Brennan

Luke Walton's decision to become an assistant coach at Memphis was one of the more intriguing -- albeit minor -- NBA and college stories of the offseason. Walton is mired in an NBA lockout, so he can't fully dedicate himself to coaching. But he also can't do much else.

To me, being a millionaire who lives in Los Angeles and spends his lockout time "not doing much else" sounds rather awesome. Think of the leisure activities one could pursue. (In the words of Brendan Huff, "so many activities!") On Thursday, Walton admitted that he considered the luxurious possibilities of doing nothing, but ultimately decided that the Memphis gig was a perfect opportunity to get a feel for coaching and decide whether the profession was worth pursuing once his playing days are over. And he even got advice from one of -- if not the -- greatest coaches of all time. From Fox Sports Radio:
"That’s part of the reason I took it, just to kind of get a feel for it. Obviously I made some phone calls to some people before I said yes to get there advice on it. Most everyone, including my old coach, Phil Jackson, thought it was a great opportunity for me and something I should do just for that reason, to find out maybe I hate sitting in gyms blowing whistles for three hours a day when I could be down in Manhattan Beach. But maybe I’ll love it.”

If Phil Jackson tells you he thinks coaching is a great opportunity, I'm sorry, but you take the man's advice. It's funny: Walton sounds like a college kid who isn't sure he wants to travel abroad, but figured he might as well while he has the chance. If it goes well, great. If not, no harm done. Maybe this isn't the ideal situation for Memphis fans -- and Walton could still be pulled away at any time if the lockout ends -- but compared to Josh Pastner's original plan of rolling with just two assistants, it's a great fit for everyone involved.

What exactly will Walton do? He explained that he would be in charge of the big men, while fellow assistant coaches Damon Stoudamire and Jack Murphy would handle the guards and wings, respectively. And if his players don't listen?
“Damon and I might have to play some two-on-two just in case the kids get out of line.”

Dear Memphis communications staff: If this ever happens, video needs to hit the Internet immediately. Signed, everyone. Thanks.