Golden State’s Luke Walton feels prepared for interim head-coaching gig

first_imgWalton quickly ascended in his short coaching career. He went from an assistant for the University of Memphis (during 2011 NBA lockout), player development coach for the Lakers’ Development League affiliate (2013-14) and a Golden State assistant (2014-15). That hasn’t surprised the Lakers, where the former 32nd pick played from 2003 to 2012 and won two NBA titles before ending his 11-year NBA in Cleveland. Veteran forward Metta World Peace became impressed with Walton’s expertise with Phil Jackson’s triangle offense and his friendly personality. Lakers coach Byron Scott reached the same conclusion after coaching him with the Cavaliers in 2012-13.“He has the right temperament for it. He has a very good understanding on how the game should be played,” Scott said. “One day he’ll make a fine head coach.”Although Walton said he “loved playing for Byron,” most of Walton’s coaching influence lies elsewhere. Former UCLA standout Bill Walton often wrote quotations from the late John Wooden on his son’s lunchbag during his childhood. Luke Walton played for Hall-of-Fame coaches in Lute Olson (Arizona) and Jackson (Lakers). “Lute Olson and Phil Jackson are pretty much opposite but they have some similarities about the flow of the game,” Walton said. “You try to learn from great teachers and use that to continue to grow.”Walton has done that by also following Kerr, which stems from playing for both Jackson and San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich. The Warriors run only aspects of the triangle offense so they can take advantage of the team’s strong outside shooting. But Walton still has embraced Jackson’s philosophies on teamwork and pace. “You have to attack in waves and everybody is in sync to where one guy moves and all four other guys react,” Walton said. “There’s a fine line between how fast you want to play and also playing to a rhythm and a pace that allows you to be successful if the fast-break isn’t there.” That approach also sums up Walton’s quick trajectory. But amid the unexpected regarding Odom’s health issues and an unexpected promotion, Walton sounded steady as he navigates the waters. The calmness in Luke Walton’s voice masked both his inner stress and the swirling chaos around him.The first part involved the former Lakers forward and Warriors interim head coach worrying about Lamar Odom since he was hospitalized in Las Vegas this week after becoming unconscious at a local brothel. Odom spoke briefly and had his breathing tubes removed in favor of a mask on Friday, according to multiple sources familiar with the situation. But the outlook on Odom’s long-term health remains pessimistic. “I’m not great, but I’ve been doing my best and hoping and praying that he somehow can pull out of it,” Walton said in a phone interview with Los Angeles News Group. “The frustrating thing is there’s not much else you can do. So I check the Internet every five minutes looking for updates.” The other part involves Walton suddenly becoming the Warriors head coach after Steve Kerr took an indefinite leave of absence to recover from a spinal leak stemmed from back surgery. It is not clear if Kerr will be with the Warriors (2-2) when they play the Lakers (1-4) tonight at Valley View Casino Arena. Walton added he has “no idea” when Kerr will resume head-coaching duties and that there is “no real timetable.”“It’s good, but obviously we can’t wait until Steve gets back,” Walton said. “We’re working, getting better and trying to get prepared for opening night.” Still, Walton feels glad to become the interim head coach for the NBA’s defending champions. That features the league’s MVP (Stephen Curry), the league’s Finals MVP (Andre Iguodala), an elite outside shooter (Klay Thompson) and elite defender (Draymond Green). “Steve is running the show and everything we do is efficient and is meant to be competitive and joyful,” Walton said. “I want to make sure we don’t have any slippage in that.”center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

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