"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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.