APRIL 15: The Kings have officially hired Walton as their new head coach, the team announced today in a press release.
“I have known Luke for many years and I am so excited to welcome him and his family to the Sacramento Kings,” Divac said in a statement. “I look forward to his leadership on the court as we work to build a winning culture for many years to come.”
APRIL 13: The Kings will hire Luke Walton as their next head coach, tweets Sean Cunningham of ABC10 in Sacramento. Walton and the Kings have agreed on a contract that will run through the 2022/23 season, tweets Sam Amick of The Athletic.
Sources tell Cunningham that the search moved quickly because of GM Vlade Divac’s fondness for Walton, whom he wanted to hire in 2016. Other candidates for the job were told they would only get an opportunity if negotiations with Walton fall through, per Amick (Twitter link).
Sacramento’s front office asked Walton to interview with them yesterday and was reportedly also seeking permission to talk with Spurs assistant Ettore Messina. Walton compiled a 98-148 mark in three seasons with the Lakers before mutually agreeing to part ways with the organization.
The Kings are about to hire their seventh head coach of the decade after their surprising decision to fire Dave Joerger on Thursday. Joerger won 98 games in three seasons and had Sacramento in the playoff race for most of the year. The team’s 39-43 record under Joerger in 2018/19 was its best mark since the 2005/06 season.
Walton has spent the last three seasons as the Lakers’ head coach, compiling a 98-148 (.398) overall mark with the franchise. Walton technically improved his record every year as the Lakers’ coach, winning 26, 35, and 37 games in his three seasons. However, this season’s squad, hit hard by injuries and negatively impacted by the midseason Anthony Davis trade-rumor saga, fell well short of expectations following last summer’s acquisition of LeBron James.
The Lakers’ underachievement resulted in Walton’s ouster this week, even with Magic Johnson no longer running the show in Los Angeles. However, it didn’t take the former Warriors assistant long to find a new head coaching job.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.