Home Sports Basketball Commentary: Los Angeles Lakers turn to Luke Walton

Commentary: Los Angeles Lakers turn to Luke Walton

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Jolene Nacapuy, Sports Editor

After two terrible seasons with Byron Scott, it was only time for Laker fans to retaliate and see him get fired. Lucky for them, he did. But adding to the sweetness of this was the hiring of Luke Walton as the new head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers organization.

With the addition of Walton and the No. 2 draft pick this year, Laker fans look hopeful into the new season.

It was also only a matter of time till general manager Mitch Kupchak got the hint that the Lakers will not get far with Scott as head coach. On April 24, Scott was seen entering the Lakers practice facility in El Segundo that evening, but was not ready to hear that they would be parting ways with him.

Kupchak said it was the best interest of the organization to make a change at the time and all eyes were on him to see what changes would be made.

The Lakers did not waste any time to search for a new coach. As rumors flied up, one of the names on the list was a name many Laker fans remember: Luke Walton. Other candidates included Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson and Kevin Ollie. However, Walton was the front-runner.

With the playoffs running, the organization was given permission to interview Walton, who is currently the assistant coach of the reigning champions Golden State Warriors.

It did not take long for him to sign with the Lakers and fulfill many golden opportunities for the future of the organization. He was signed to a five-year $25 million contract April 30.

He had the brightest young coaching minds in the game and fortunate enough to have him on-court future for the team, according to Kupchak.

Walton added that he dreamed of being a head coach and the chance to do that for an organization like the Lakers doesn’t come around very often.

He played nine seasons with the Lakers until he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2011, where he played his final two seasons. Also in 2011 during the NBA lockout, he was an assistant coach with the University of Memphis.

In 2013 he became a player development coach with the Lakers D-League affiliate, the D-Fenders, before moving his coaching ways to work under Steve Kerr with the Warriors.

He won an NBA title with the Warriors last season as assistant, then took over as interim head coach at the beginning of the 2015-16 season, while Kerr dealt with health issues and had an impressive 39-4 record.

Last season, the Lakers finished with a franchise worst and the second-worst record of the season with 17-65. The Lakers struggled to play defense and work together as a unit with a roster filled with young players and veterans.

The departure of Kobe Bryant left a hole in many hearts, including mine. Many were also disappointed he did not go out with one more championship ring on his finger, but he did go out in a game for the books with 60-points to end the season.

With Luke Walton as the new head coach, he will be in for a rebuilding season. As a young coach, he will relate closely to the players and he knows the program really well, will be a great asset to the team.

I loved watching Luke Walton play with the Lakers and earning championships and to see him come back is amazing for the organization. Seeing him take over for coach Kerr as interim head coach and what he has done to help the team where they are now is impressive.

However, it will be an uphill battle to get things back on track and where they should be. With the importance of the free agency and with the No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft, it will be certain the Lakers will make moves.

The hopes of the Lakers returning to the playoffs and the finals will be ideal with a new head coach, but they are a long way from that dream. It will be up to what Luke Walton decides as the season is not quite over yet for him. Sports fans should standby and watch for the Lakers next season because the season of rebuilding begins and journey to a championship will be on the list to accomplish.

Jolene Nacapuy, a senior journalism major, is sports editor for the Campus Times. She can be reached by email at jolene.nacapuy@laverne.edu and on Twitter @jolenenacapuy.

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