The Lakers hired Warriors assistant Luke Walton on Friday night as their 26th head coach in team history. Walton replaces Byron Scott, who seemed to struggle with developing the team’s young players. At 36, Walton was in high demand around the league among teams with coaching vacancies. The Kings, Rockets and Knicks were all reportedly interested after he posted a 39-4 record for Golden State as acting head coach in Steve Kerr‘s absence.
The hiring has been received positively around the league. Here are some reactions to it …
- Despite his lack of experience, Walton will be seen as someone who can fix the Lakers, who have won only 65 games the last three years, writes Bill Oram of the Orange County Register. Since the death of Jerry Buss and departure of Phil Jackson, the Lakers front office has had mixed opinions on moves, but by acting quickly, this decision shows confidence, Oram adds.
- Walton was the only candidate the Lakers interviewed, report Ramona Shelburne and Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com. They had other meetings lined up but canceled them after meeting with Walton on Thursday, Holmes writes. The Lakers hired a young, intelligent and up-and-coming coach from a forward-thinking organization that has had a lot of success, Holmes adds.
- Walton will be able to relate to players because of his age, as Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News details. Scott was criticized for his high demands of young players, Medina adds. “It’s going to be real good for us,” Lakers rookie forward Anthony Brown said. “He’ll be pretty hands-on just because he’s close to us in age. He’ll really want to help develop guys.”
- Walton told Shelburne (ESPN Now link), “I loved everything about my time at Golden State and learning from Steve. I’ll forever be grateful to him, the organization and the team. But I have always dreamed of being a head coach and the chance to do that for an organization like the Lakers doesn’t come around very often.”