Friday, the Los Angeles Lakers and Luke Walton reached an agreement on a multi-year contract for Walton to become the next Head Coach of the team, it was announced by General Manager Mitch Kupchak. Walton will begin his new duties at the conclusion of the Golden State Warriors season.
“We’re excited to bring Luke back to Los Angeles, where we feel he’s going to start an outstanding coaching career,” said Kupchak. “He’s one of the brightest young coaching minds in the game and we feel fortunate that he’ll be leading the on-court future of our team.”
Walton, 36, will be the 26th head coach in franchise history, and the 22nd in the Los Angeles era.
Back in November, Kobe Bryant backed Walton as a future head coach in the league while he was interim Head Coach of the Golden State Warriors.
“I used to tease him all the time,” Bryant said then of his former teammate. “I told him he was the next Phil [Jackson] because he was an average player with a messed-up back. I said, ‘Dude, if this is not Phil — I mean, you’re a hippie, 6-9 or whatever he is. I used to rib him all the time about that. But honestly he always had a really brilliant mind and understanding flow and tempo and spacing and how to manage a team the right way. I couldn’t be any happier for him. He looks very comfortable in that role.”
Walton is currently in his second season as an Assistant Coach with the Warriors. Earlier this season, he posted a 39-4 record as interim head coach in Steve Kerr’s absence, including a 24-0 start, the best start in NBA history.
Walton enjoyed a 10-year NBA playing career (2003-13), averaging 4.7 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 564 regular season games with the Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers. Originally selected with the 32nd overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, he was a member of championship teams with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010.
After his playing career, Walton served as a player development coach for the Los Angeles D-Fenders in the 2013-14 season. He also served as an assistant coach at the University of Memphis during the 2011 NBA lockout.