The Los Angeles Lakers are in full-blown new-era mode, ushering in a host of high-end young talent and a brand new head coach in Luke Walton who should served as a breath of fresh air for everyone in Staples Center. Perhaps most important for the Lakers right now is to cultivate the talent of D’Angelo Russell, and it sounds like the young point guard has taken to building a strong relationship with Walton, according to some insight gleaned from the great Mike Trudell.
This quote says it all, via an interesting dispatch from our favorite sideline reporter:
“We communicate on and off the court as much as possible,” Russell said. “I feel like I can call him all the time. He’s not like a head coach that will sit back and watch as other coaches and colleagues train other players. He’s always involved. He’ll get out there and play with you if he wants. It’s just great having a young coach like him in the building.”
Before even pondering what that can mean for his development, it’s worth stopping to think about Russell dialing up Byron Scott -- if only for a quick laugh. Walton being the kind of presence that the young core is drawn to is a fantastic sign for the Lakers as they rebuild. Whether Luke delivers is an entirely different subject, but it has to start in the communication department. Clearly they’re already working to be on the same page.
It won’t always be sunshine and lollipops for a Lakers team not projected to do much better in the win column, but guidance from the coaching staff even through what could be another loss-heavy season is key. It can’t turn into another year of stunted development, and from the sounds of things that shouldn’t be too much of a worry for Lakers fans.
Training camp is on the way in just a few short weeks, with preseason opening on Oct. 4 against the Sacramento Kings in Anaheim. The offseason work from the players, and the communication and relationship building from Walton, are close to being put to the test.
You can almost hear “I Gotta Feeling” already.