Luke Walton, the new coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, will play a critical role during the most the important offseason in franchise history this summer.
With Los Angeles ready to move into the post-Kobe Bryant era, there is a major void to be filled and a desperate need for a superstar or two to carry the Lakers into the next generation. Last week, a Lakers source told SportingNews that the new coach would have to be a “recruiter-in-chief” with the ability to relate to marquee free agents and convince them to join the Purple & Gold.
Luke Walton @ 36
Walton ticks all those boxes. At 36, he’s set to become the youngest coach in the NBA. Since he retired just a few seasons ago, Walton maintains good relations with most players in the league. ESPN’s Mark Stein summed it up the best: “Young Luke checks every box for the Lakers: on-the-rise coach who can connect with players and if not outright recruit free agents, certainly speak their language.”
During the weekend, Walton revealed that the Lakers top brass have already shared with him a list of free agents they plan to pursue this summer. “(Lakers) laid it all out (during the interview). They showed what they want to do, players they plan on going after, all that stuff. That’s exciting to me. Get to be with one of the greatest organizations in the history of sports, and they’re ready and willing to get after it,” said Walton, who won two championships with the Lakers as a role player.
Striking out in free agency
Over the last two seasons, the Lakers failed to recruit superstars such as Carmelo Anthony and LaMarcus Aldridge despite extravagant presentations and the active involvement of Kobe Bryant. Is that why they are counting on the new coach? According to ESPN’s Warriors reporter Ethan Sherwood Strauss, who covered Walton closely over the last two years, the Lakers have found a primary recruiter. “He’s charismatic, and he communicates well with current players. That might be his best attribute as a leader, actually. He exudes a laid-back likability.”
Will Luke Walton and his laid-back likability help Lakers add some substantial talent this offseason?