Just a day removed from mutually agreeing to part ways with the Los Angeles Lakers, Luke Walton has already found his next head coaching gig. According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, Walton is in the process of finalizing a multi-year deal to become the next head coach of the Sacramento Kings after meeting with general manager Vlade Divac on Saturday.
By signing with the Kings, Walton will stay in the Pacific Division, where he’ll be able to see his former team five times a year. This will be Walton’s third coaching job in the Pacific Division, with his first being his time as an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors.
Walton might not be much of an upgrade from Dave Joerger, who he would replacing, from a pure basketball standpoint, and one could make a compelling argument that he’s a downgrade, but Walton has a reputation for being a good locker room presence for a young team. If the Kings are trying to establish a good culture in Sacramento, Walton’s a good starting point.
That’s not say Joerger wasn’t liked by his players, but his mishandling of No. 2 overall pick Marvin Bagley III is what ultimately led to his dismissal, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. It’s safe to that the expectation is for Walton to empower Bagley.
Lastly, and most importantly for Walton, he will be hired by a front office that believes in him and will put him a position to succeed. With the exception of maybe his first few months with the Lakers, that wasn’t the case for him during his time in Los Angeles.
Walton might still have a little ways to go when it comes to Xs and Os, but it sounds like the Kings are willing to let him sort through his growing pains with their up and coming roster. Best of luck in Sacramento, Luke.