In this latest episode of Locked on Lakers preview series, I welcome Bill Oram of The Athletic on to talk about Walton and the season ahead.
When you really think about it, Luke Walton marked the beginning of the Lakers turning things around. At that time, the franchise was in a tailspin, they had just fired quite possibly one of the worst coaches in NBA history, free agents were avoiding the team like the plague and it remained unknown how any of the young players would work out.
But the Lakers got their guy despite all that and were able to sign Walton, widely considered the league’s hottest coaching commodity at the time, and the team has improved in both seasons since.
That’s how we got here. Where we go next is going to be fascinating.
Obviously, previewing a coach is going to be very different from analyzing a player. It’s almost impossible to isolate anything a coach does from the team they manage, and even then, the coach is largely helpless once the play they put in place begins on the court. Still, there are aspects of Walton’s tenure that require discussion.
One place where Walton needs to improve is his communication with players who might not be considered a part of the team’s plans moving forward. Though again, additional context is needed for this analysis.
Still, the Lakers are quite clearly made up of veteran free agent additions and their young core (and that LeBron James guy). How Walton manages all the personalities and egos across the roster is going to be absolutely vital to the Lakers’ ceiling this year.
Another interesting dynamic when discussing Walton is his relationship with Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka, who didn’t hire him initially. Usually in regime changes this obviously public, the coach is replaced along with the massive changes throughout the organization. That wasn’t the case here, but it’ll certainly be something to watch if things don’t quite go as we all expect.
For the most part, though, Walton does seem like a great fit for this team and this organization. He has the respect of some very loud voices in the organization and should have ample support.
As always, this is just a tidbit of the full context given in the show. Listen to the full discussion below and please check out old episodes or guarantee you won’t miss any ever again by subscribing on iTunes.