Walton aims to get Lakers back on song
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