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As I wrote when Luke Walton was named head coach, who he brings on as his assistant coaches would be very important — maybe more so than other candidates who were being considered — to his success as head man. Walton, after all, does not possess a lot of head coaching experience, so the type of people he surrounds himself with matter a great deal.

Namely, one thing Walton will likely need is experience in his staff and, hopefully, experience who he is both familiar with and who share his sensibilities as a coach. One name which has surfaced, according to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski, is Brian Shaw:

New head coach Luke Walton is starting to construct his coaching staff, and the most prominent on his short list of candidates is Brian Shaw, league sources said.

Shaw was a longtime assistant under Phil Jackson, and most recently the head coach of the Denver Nuggets. Lakers executive vice president Jim Buss resisted Shaw as a head-coaching candidate before the hiring of Byron Scott, and many in the league doubt his enthusiasm over having another Jackson loyalist rejoining the coaching staff.

There’s much to unpack here, so let’s get to it. First, Walton is very familiar with Shaw. As noted, Shaw coached under Phil Jackson in Los Angeles for many years and his time there as an assistant overlapped with Walton’s as a player. Shaw has experience running the Triangle, which while note the offense Walton will install, involves many principles Walton will make priorities — namely spacing, ball and player movement, and playing together as a team.

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When you’re 38 wins over two seasons bad, you need a lot of things. You need better players (or, maybe just for the ones you have to realize their potential soon). You need better decision making from those who run the organization. And you need better coaching.

The Lakers have, hopefully, addressed that last part and are working on the players and decision making part. Free agency success, internal growth, and a front office who seems to have an idea of where they want to go post Kobe Bryant would all be nice.

Of those things mentioned, however, the only one actually in place as of now is the coach. Thus, Luke Walton is being looked at as a lot of things. Maybe he can be the guy to help turnaround the team’s horrid offense. Maybe he can instill defensive discipline. Maybe he will bring an unselfishness, an acumen to passing and sharing the ball, and all kinds of other things the Lakers need to be successful in the upcoming season and beyond.

While these X’s and O’s, tactics, and on-the-court personification of Walton’s coaching sensibilities will matter a great deal, one thing I am hoping for most from the new head coach is for him to be a uniting force which bridges the gaps within the organization and allows this franchise to finally move forward together.

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To be honest, I’m still in a bit of shock that Luke Walton is the Lakers’ new head coach. Not because I don’t think he’s ready or didn’t support his candidacy, but because it happened so quickly. Mitch Kupchak said he did not expect to have a coach hired within two weeks, but Walton was hired only 5 days after the team announced they had parted ways with Bryon Scott.

Us being heavily Lakers’ centric here, it is somewhat easy to forget that Walton deciding to come to Los Angeles also means he has decided to leave the Bay Area and the Warriors. Saturday, as that team prepared for his second round match up with the Blazers, they reacted to Walton’s eminent departure:

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After parting ways with Byron Scott last Sunday, the Lakers moved quickly and decisively on Friday in naming Luke Walton their next head coach. From the team’s press release:

Earlier today, 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.”

While it was believed the Lakers were going to perform a thorough search — they received permission to interview Spurs’ assistant Ettore Messina and were reportedly going to interview former Cavs coach David Blatt — Walton was always, clearly, their top choice. They reportedly sent representatives to Oakland to interview Walton and finalized a deal quickly.

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In the excitement of the Lakers being granted permission to interview Warriors’ assistant coach Luke Walton and Spurs’ assistant coach Ettore Messina, it’s easy to forget the team will actually look at other candidates too. Yes, Luke and Messina are the presumed front-runners, but an expansive search will include more than just them.

Now, what if I told you one candidate the Lakers plan to interview (scroll down) has a resumé similar to Ettore Messina, but also has NBA experience as a head coach. And what if I told you in his one and a half seasons as an NBA head coach he won 67.5% of his games and reached the NBA Finals in his one full season. That he’s considered a top flight offensive mind, that he showed tactical flexibility in the face of an evolving roster, and that he also got his team to play good defense.

This guy sounds intriguing right? Now, what if I told you his name is David Blatt.

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The Lakers have already received permission to interview Spurs assistant coach Ettore Messina, but he is not their only target who is currently assisting a league powerhouse hoping to make a run to the championship. The other, of course, is the Warriors’ Luke Walton and the Lakers have moved quickly to get permission to interview their former 2nd round draft pick as well.

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After parting ways with Byron Scott on Sunday, the Lakers are already moving forward in their search for a new head coach. While they are expected to look at a long list of candidates, it is a fair assumption they have a short list of top choices they would like to interview and gauge interest in soon.

Mitch Kupchak noted on Monday he does not envision the hiring process being strung out, explaining a hire could be made as quickly as within two weeks. In order to get the ball rolling, then, they must start to reach out to potential candidates and line them up for interviews. Well, that process has begun.

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Byron Scott is no longer the Lakers’ coach. While a vocal portion of fans rejoice loudly, right with them there is also a chorus of questions about next steps and whether those in charge are going to make a coaching decision which propels the team forward. The doubts this will happen are real and they exist for the exact reason there is even a choice to make now.

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