At his introductory press conference today, new Lakers coach Luke Walton says now that the NBA Finals are over he is completely focused on the task at hand and is ready to help restore the franchise to its former glory, The Los Angeles Daily News relays. Walton noted the franchise’s exciting young talent, the amount of money the team can afford to spend in free agency and the opportunity to turn things around for a franchise that is coming off some of its worst seasons ever as reasons the post interested and excited him. “The fact that [GM] Mitch [Kupchak] and [VP] Jimmy Buss trusted me to be part of this rebuilding, post-Kobe [Bryant] era means the world to me,” Walton said. “Everything excites me. We have young talented players, we have draft picks, we have $60-70 million in free agency, the greatest fans.”
Walton also added that he doesn’t foresee any issues with him reaching and connecting with the team’s young roster. “Our players are going to like coming into practice every day,” Walton said. “We are going to play a brand of b-ball that the L.A. fans will appreciate. You have to make it fun for them. Basketball is meant to be a game of joy.”
Here’s more from around the NBA:
- The Jazz have told interested teams that Gordon Hayward isn’t available and won’t be traded, Marc Stein of ESPN.com tweets. The Bucks are also turning away teams calling about Jabari Parker and Khris Middleton, Stein adds.
- Pistons coach/executive Stan Van Gundy is confident the team will nab a solid player with the No. 18 overall pick, but he doesn’t expect whomever is selected to contribute next season, Keith Langlois of NBA.com writes. Van Gundy also noted that Detroit’s draft night results won’t alter its approach to free agency this summer. “It’s possible [the draft pick becomes part of the rotation], but we still wouldn’t view them that way at 18, quite honestly,” Van Gundy said. “Nothing that we do Thursday night will change the way we look at free agency. So if we draft a point guard Thursday night, we’ll still be looking at a point guard in free agency. If we draft a true power forward in the draft on Thursday night, we’re still going out looking for one.”
- Discussing a possible trade of the Pistons‘ No. 18 pick, Van Gundy told reporters that the team plans on keeping the selection if there is a player available whom they like, Rod Beard of The Detroit News tweets. “The chances are, if there are guys there at 18 that we like, we’ll just go ahead and make our pick,” Van Gundy said.
- The Hawks‘ wealth of draft picks over the four years provides the team with ample assets to be active in the trade market on Thursday night, Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. “It’s always important to have multiple picks because it gives you the opportunity to explore trades that may take you higher in the draft,” GM Wes Wilcox said. “So, yes, it certainly provides some flexibility that we will explore on draft night. It’s not just in the current draft. We are fortunate to have all of our first-round picks going forward plus one additional. It depends on how to count the second-round picks because some are contingent on other picks being delivered but we essentially have two second-round picks in every draft for the next four years.“