Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton expertly outlined all of the pragmatic reasons why the team shouldn’t trade D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram or the rest of their young talent for a star Tuesday, citing the Golden State Warriors’ dominance and how hard it is to build a contender.
Part of the reason Walton is okay waiting a while to get back to contention is less pragmatic though. It sounds like part of it is that he’s having a blast working with the Lakers’ young players.
“It's a lot of fun, it really is. There's obviously a lot of stress and frustration that can come with losing when you're caught up in the moment, but we have a great group of young players, and I don't just mean that as a great group of talented players,” Walton said during an appearance on “The Full 48” with Howard Beck. “I mean like actual people, and who they are and the way they work makes coaching so much fun, because they're coming in. We still have the playoffs going on and we've had six or seven guys in here pretty much every day, Monday through Friday from May 15 until right now.
“That's not mandatory. The off-season is optional. We told them that'd we'd be around, and if they wanted to work to let us know, and they've reached out. They've come in every day depending on if we have draft workouts,” Walton continued. “They're starting their morning at 8 a.m. here getting breakfast. If we have draft workouts, they start their morning around 9:40 or 10 in the weight room and then come out to the court when we're done with our draft workouts.”
Walton added that he’s especially impressed with the enthusiasm because of how much of a toll losing could’ve taken on the young team. Instead, they’ve used it as a rallying point and motivation to improve.
“They want to get better, they work hard, they're fun to be around. Even with the amount of losing that we did last year and, for a lot of these guys, the amount of losing they've done for the last couple years, there wasn't ever any quit in their them which, as coaches, we just love. They keep fighting, they want to be better and they enjoy playing basketball,” Walton said. “That leads me to believe if we keep putting in the work and the time with these young guys that as they grow older and mature with those type of attitudes and those type of work habits they're putting in...we're going to have a successful future."
Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.