video

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Golden State Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton said it was a difficult decision to take over as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers but one he was prepared to make.

"It was a tough decision, but I didn't have to sleep on it because I already kind of thought it out," said Walton, who addressed the media for the first time since news of the hire broke Friday. "Obviously, I love that the past two years, the players here are incredible, not just talent-wise, but the people they are. I love the coaching staff I work with here."

NBA coaching sources told ESPN's Marc Stein that Walton landed a five-year deal with the Lakers -- four years of which are guaranteed -- at an annual salary believed to be between $5 million and $6 million, depending on incentives.

Walton will remain on the Warriors' staff for the remainder of the team's playoff run. His coaching star rose considerably after he led the Warriors to a 39-4 start while filling in for an ailing Steve Kerr this season.

"I was a little nervous about making the phone call because we have such a good thing going here, and I respect [Kerr] so much," Walton said. "But he was blown away. He couldn't believe how quickly it had happened, but he was so excited. It was like two friends talking. He was really, really happy for me, the opportunity. We had that call, and I was at his house three hours later."

Kerr explained how Walton broke the news to him: "Luke called me maybe around 4 o'clock or so and said, 'I got good news and bad news.' I said, 'What's the good news?' He said, 'The Lakers offered me the job.' I said, 'What's the bad news?' He said, 'I took it.' I said, 'You're right. That is bad news. We're going to miss you.'"

Walton will be trading a team that won an NBA-record 73 games this season and is chasing its second straight title for a Lakers squad coming off a franchise-worst 17-65 season. Walton said he is ready for the challenge.

"[The Lakers] laid it all out. They showed what they want to do, players they plan on going after, all that stuff," Walton said. "That's exciting to me. Get to be with one of the greatest organizations in the history of sports, and they're ready and willing to get after it."

A Southern California native, Walton admitted that his being a former Laker affected his decision-making.

"The fact I played for the Lakers, and I feel part of that family, I still root for them," he said. "Even before I took this job, I watched Laker games and hoped that they succeed and win, so it's kind of nice to be able to go back and try to help rebuild what they used to have there."

Lakers legend Magic Johnson hailed the team's new hire.

Although Walton played for former coach Phil Jackson, don't expect Jackson's triangle offense to take shape with Luke's Lakers.

"I don't think the triangle's the most appropriate offense for the players that they have in place right there," Walton said. "So I think I'm going to bring more of the style and spacing that we use up here, which has elements of the triangle, that philosophy."

Walton noted he is very aware of his present situation in the Bay Area despite knowing his future is in Los Angeles.

"My priority is winning a championship right now [with Golden State], and the Lakers know that," Walton said. "And they know that's how it should be, and we have the chance to do something very special here."

Forward Draymond Green


(Read full post)


video

Steve Kerr tells the story of Luke Walton calling him "with good news and bad news" to tell him about the Lakers job and explains what he'll say to Walton if he ever calls asking for coaching advice.

The news that Luke Walton will become the next Los Angeles Lakers coach drew lots of praise throughout the league.

However, the biggest praise came from his father, Hall of Famer Bill Walton. And he did so in typical dad fashion, tweeting a picture of Luke as a young child.

Interestingly, as Luke's name was being suggested for a number of coaching jobs, Bill had suggested he stay with the Golden State Warriors, saying on ESPN's First Take last month: "It doesn't get any better than what he's got right now ever in life, and money will not make that happen again. It's there now. Head coaching jobs, they're open for a reason, and what he's got, just stay there."

But with Luke in Los Angeles, Bill is still a very proud papa.


(Read full post)


video

Marc Stein says being offered the Lakers' head coaching job was too good of an opportunity to pass up for Luke Walton.
video

Most NBA coaching staffs would've watched the game at the office and ordered in some dinner. But Steve Kerr has built more than a coaching staff in his two seasons as head coach of the Golden State Warriors. He's created a family, just as the patriarch of his coaching tree, Lute Olson, did at the University of Arizona. So Kerr invited everyone -- his coaches and their families -- over to his house in the Berkeley Hills for dinner before they watched Game 6 of the Portland Trail Blazers-Los Angeles Clippers series.

It was a night to laugh and bond and scout the Warriors' second-round opponent. But mostly it was to be among the last nights this little coaching family Kerr had created would all be together after lead assistant coach Luke Walton agreed to become the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. That's how life goes in the NBA. You create something special and the rest of the league wants to steal some of what makes you magic.

It was a joyous occasion, and it was bittersweet.

And then it was just so perfectly Luke.

As news leaked that Walton had accepted the Lakers' job, and the dinner party was about to get started, he was on the side of the road dealing with car trouble. Yes, really. The man's career just took a quantum leap forward, his family and friends are waiting to celebrate with him, and his car breaks down. When he finally arrived about an hour late, he just smiled and let everyone have a laugh at him. No apologies necessary.

That's Luke Walton. Last year's lead assistant coach Alvin Gentry once said of him, "I don't think I've ever met another guy who is so comfortable in his own skin."

It's why he connects with so easily with so many people. He's as comfortable talking to brainy 68-year-old defensive assistant coach Ron Adams as he is with 20-year-old rookie Kevon Looney


(Read full post)


video

Brendan Haywood says Luke Walton's record won't mean much to the Lakers' roster, but Walton can sell Los Angeles on Golden State's culture and winning mentality.

Luke WaltonNoah Graham/NBAE/Getty ImagesLuke Walton is off to a storied start as a coach. Can he now add to the storied legacy of the Lakers?

Los Angeles Lakers fans haven't celebrated much lately, not with the team setting a franchise record for most losses in each of the past three seasons. Kobe Bryant offered an occasional break from the doom-and-gloom by dishing out a handful of throwback performances in his final season, including an eye-popping 60-point finale, but those alone weren't enough to bury the rotten stench of the team's worst-ever 17-65 record.

Yet Lakers Nation erupted in long-awaited cheers earlier this week when their season-long pleas for head coach Byron Scott to be removed from his post were finally met, and fans erupted again Friday night when the team announced that Luke Walton will replace Scott, becoming the 26th head coach in franchise history.

Walton was a fan favorite when he played nine seasons for the Lakers, winning titles in 2009 and 2010, and he was a fan favorite to replace Scott after Walton led the Golden State Warriors to a 39-4 record -- most notably a 24-0 start -- as the team's interim coach early this season while Steve Kerr was sidelined with health issues.


(Read full post)


video

With the announcement that Luke Walton will become the next Lakers coach, we asked our writers for their thoughts on how Walton will fit with his new team, how the move will impact the Warriors and more. NBA experts Marc Stein, Henry Abbott, Ethan Strauss, J.A. Adande and Amin Elhassan go 5-on-5.


1. Was Walton the best possible hire for the Lakers?

Henry Abbott, ESPN.com: The list of available coaches won't knock your socks off. But in an environment such as this, the Celtics unearthed Brad Stevens a few years ago. Luke Walton, who is very green in coaching terms, hardly seems like a "shut down the search after one interview" kind of candidate.

Ethan Sherwood Strauss, ESPN.com: I think so, especially given the Lakers' desire for a hire with strong ties to Lakerdom. Walton can grow with a younger roster and will likely lead with more patience than a crotchety veteran coach such as Byron Scott. In fact, the hope is he's the antidote to Scott's style of leadership.

J.A. Adande, ESPN.com: It's tough to call a coach who doesn't officially have a victory to his name the "best" choice, but that doesn't mean he isn't a good fit. Laker fans have loved Luke Walton since he was a rookie and have been clamoring for him since his super-successful stint as the Warriors' interim coach. Now a franchise that has always reveled in the 1980s gets a coach who was born in the 1980s.

Marc Stein, ESPN.com: Yes. Young Luke checks every box for the Lakers: on-the-rise coach who can connect with players and if not outright recruit free agents, certainly speak their language.


(Read full post)


video

After two of the worst seasons in franchise history, Ramona Shelburne looks at how the Lakers are looking to start fresh with Luke Walton, who knows the Lakers from his playing days.
video

Luke Walton has agreed to be the Los Angeles Lakers' new head coach, with the sides agreeing to a multiyear deal Friday, the team said.  

Walton spent nine seasons with the Lakers, winning two championship rings as a smart, steady contributor. Three years after his retirement, the 36-year-old Southern California native is back to become the 26th coach in franchise history.

Walton has been serving as an assistant for the Golden State Warriors, who granted him permission to interview with the Lakers after their first-round Western Conference playoff series against the Houston Rockets concluded Wednesday.

"I loved everything about my time at Golden State and learning from Steve [Kerr]," Walton told ESPN. "I'll forever be grateful to him, the organization and the team. But I have always dreamed of being a head coach and the chance to do that for an organization like the Lakers doesn't come around very often."

A source told ESPN's Ramona Shelburne that Walton was the Lakers' first choice and the only candidate they interviewed. They had other meetings lined up but canceled them after Thursday's interview with Walton in Oakland, California. 

"We're excited to bring Luke back to Los Angeles, where we feel he's going to start an outstanding coaching career," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said in a release. "He's one of the brightest young coaching minds in the game, and we feel fortunate that he'll be leading the on-court future of our team."

The 36-year-old had become a hot coaching commodity after ‎posting a 39-4 record -- including a record 24-0 start -- as the Warriors' interim coach this season while Kerr was recovering from complications stemming from two offseason back surgeries. 

"I'm incredibly happy for Luke," Kerr said in a release. "As we witnessed earlier this season, he has all of the intangibles necessary to be an outstanding head coach in this league, including a terrific understanding of the game [and] the ability to communicate with a wide range of people."

Walton finished eighth in coach of the year balloting Tuesday. Sources said he had drawn serious interest from the Sacramento Kings


(Read full post)


When he accepted the Los Angeles Lakers' coaching job Friday, Golden State Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton moved 56 games down the standings.

video

In the midst of telling a basketball story, Baron Davis became a basketball story.

A knee injury brought Davis' 13-year NBA career to a halt during a Knicks playoff game in 2012. He had already started shooting footage of the summertime Drew League, a project that intensified as Davis entered retirement. The finished documentary, "The Drew", will premiere on Showtime on Friday night at 8 p.m. in the Eastern and Pacific time zones.

For a while Davis' basketball exploits were limited to some weekend pickup runs. He'd dabble in a few games of H-O-R-S-E. He found the competitive juices were most likely to flow when he played games of Connect Four -- or sometimes when he picked up the controller and played Mario Kart.

But all of that time spent around the Drew League stirred something.

"Being in that environment and not playing?" Davis said.

That didn't sit right.

Something else didn't sit right: the way his career ended. He'd come down from the highs of the "We Believe" Golden State Warriors playoff run in 2007, to shifting among three teams (the Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers and New York Knicks) in the final four years of his career. He was heckled by then-Clippers owner Donald Sterling when he played in L.A. His beloved grandmother died in 2011 while he was playing for the Cavaliers. The finish wasn't clean. It felt as if there were more to be done.

Davis hired a personal trainer and worked his way back into shape. He showed up regularly to the Sunday runs. He put out the word that he wanted back in.


(Read full post)


video

Rachel Nichols, Zach Lowe and Raja Bell share their thoughts on Iggy Azalea saving Nick Young from an embarrassing tattoo gaffe.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Kobe Bryant
PTS AST STL MIN
17.6 2.8 0.9 28.2
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Randle 10.2
AssistsM. Huertas 3.4
StealsD. Russell 1.2
BlocksR. Hibbert 1.4