Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton joined John Ireland, Jeanie Buss, Mychal Thompson and Rob Pelinka for a sit-down interview event on ESPN Los Angeles, delving into an array of details about the franchise during the hour-long special.
Things are about to pick up for the franchise, with media day less than a week away and the start of training camp immediately following that. Much, if not all, of the team has been busy getting ready for the first formal practices by putting in time at the new training facility until then.
Walton revealed that - insert shock face - Lonzo Ball will be the Lakers’ starting point guard right out of the gates. The rest of the lineup seems to be very much in the air, however.
Ireland asked Walton about the nuances of managing a roster filled with young players vying for playing time, and Coach Luke sounds like he’s looking forward to taking in training camp with soft eyes.
“A lot of it to me comes down to training camp. Is [Kyle] Kuzma gonna outplay so-and-so... it’s all about earning time. We’re not gonna give minutes to anyone because I feel like we’re doing a player a disservice.
“You earn your keep and then you feel like once you get that starting spot, or you get those minutes, that those are your minutes and you don’t take them for granted. You appreciate and are humbled by the fact that you get to play at this level,” Walton said.
The Lakers have some interesting pieces spread throughout the main 15-man roster, with young prospects like Thomas Bryant, Ivica Zubac, Josh Hart and Kuzma to work into the equation, blue chippers like Julius Randle and Brandon Ingram, veterans like Corey Brewer, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Luol Deng and set-rotation pieces like Larry Nance, Jr. and Jordan Clarkson having to fight for minutes.
Having to parse through a deep roster is something Walton is excited about with basketball activities on the horizon.
“Part of the great thing that Rob [Pelinka] and Magic [Johnson] have done since taking over, they've built this... which I love because I love practice too... there’s this competition level at every spot that we have. We’re gonna go into training camp and we’re gonna lay it out.
“Who wants to come out and earn these minutes? Who’s been working their tails off this summer that are ready to take their step and take that position? And we’re going to evaluate every drill. We’re going to keep track of everything, and we’re going to try to different lineups out in the preseason games,” Walton said.
From the outside, a starting lineup of Ball, Caldwell-Pope, Ingram, Randle and Brook Lopez seems to be the favorite heading into the regular season. Middle-rotation minutes, and seeing how Kuzma fits into the rotation and where he squeezes minutes away from if he continues to build on his Las Vegas Summer League success, seem to be the biggest questions to consider.
*All quotes transcribed via ESPN Los Angeles