Wal­ton aims to get Lak­ers back on song

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Af­ter two cas­tas­trophic sea­sons that were the worst in the club’s his­tory, Luke Wal­ton is un­der no il­lu­sions about the size of the task fac­ing him as he at­tempts to res­ur­rect the Los An­ge­les Lak­ers.

The iconic Cal­i­for­nia fran­chise looked to have hit rock bot­tom in the 2014-2015 cam­paign when the Lak­ers plunged to a 21-61 record in the West­ern Con­fer­ence. But that low point turned out to be merely a stag­ing post en route to a fresh nadir when they crashed to a worst-ever 17-65 sea­son in 20152016. With Kobe Bryant head­ing off into re­tire­ment, and coach By­ron Scott swiftly fired in April, the Lak­ers turned to Wal­ton to be­gin the re­build­ing process of the 16-time NBA cham­pi­ons.

A pop­u­lar for­mer Lak­ers for­ward-Wal­ton spent nine sea­sons at the club be­tween 2003 and 2012 — the 36-year-old re­turns to Los An­ge­les hav­ing worked as an as­sis­tant to Steve Kerr at the Golden State War­riors from 2014.

That stint in the Bay Area in­cluded a spell at the start of last sea­son when he was ef­fec­tively stand­ing in for Kerr as the War­riors head coach re­cov­ered from back surgery. Wal­ton’s spell in charge saw him over­see a record 24-0 start to the sea­son, al­though un­der NBA rules the win­ning run was cred­ited to Kerr.

Un­sur­pris­ingly, Wal­ton en­vis­ages a long road back for the Lak­ers as they jour­ney back from the low­est point in the fran­chise’s his­tory. “Pa­tience will def­i­nitely be im­por­tant, not only for me, but for the rest of the staff, the play­ers, the fans, ev­ery­body,” he said.

“It’s im­por­tant that we set our foun­da­tion, and that we set our goals and that we don’t let whether we are win­ning or los­ing games take us from that path. We’ve got to stay the course, and keep look­ing at the big pic­ture.”

DANC­ING TO DIF­FER­ENT TUNE

The Lak­ers will look to a blend of youth and ex­pe­ri­ence as they at­tempt to re­vive their for­tunes in the post-Bryant era. Veterans such as Luol Deng and Ti­mofey Moz­gov are among the ad­di­tions to a ros­ter that has a nu­cleus of young tal­ent, in­clud­ing D’An­gelo Rus­sell, Jor­dan Clark­son and Bran­don In­gram, the 19-year-old cho­sen sec­ond over­all in last June’s NBA Draft. — AFP

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