Archives For luke walton

Since it was reported Brian Shaw would return to the Lakers as Luke Walton’s lead assistant, it has been pretty quiet on the “who will be on Luke Walton’s staff” front. No leaks of names who were shoe-ins, not even any hints at who might be under consideration.

That changed over the weekend when Dave Miller brought up a name I was unfamiliar with:

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While I fully support and endorse the Lakers hiring Luke Walton, hiring him, specifically, doesn’t come without potential logistical hiccups. Walton, after all, is still employed, fulfilling his responsibilities as the Warriors’ lead assistant as they look to defend their title. As Walton helps Steve Kerr and the Warriors, then, he’s not able to yet move into his role as head man for the Lakers — at least as long as the Dubs are still in the playoffs.

With the Lakers getting a taste of lady luck by holding onto their draft pick on Tuesday night, they will soon start to hold pre-draft workouts of top prospects (they have already been working out prospects for their 2nd round pick). Only with Walton still working for the Warriors, he’s not likely to be around for many — if any — of them. TNT and NBA.com’s David Aldridge has the report:

So Walton may have to miss a number of Predraft workouts the Lakers schedule with some of the top Draft prospects. The Lakers are taping every workout for him to view when he can. Walton and Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak text each other every day and talk on the phone when possible, but the Lakers are being very respectful of Walton’s remaining days at Golden State.

In the meantime, Walton is continuing to try and convince Brian Shaw to join his Lakers coaching staff. But Shaw is also being wooed by new Pacers head coach Nate McMillan for a similar position, according to sources. Ideally, Shaw would serve as Walton’s proxy in L.A. during the Predraft workouts.

This isn’t the most ideal situation for the Lakers. In a perfect world Walton would be present, offering his thoughts and providing his opinion on players the Lakers may end up selecting. His insight on how a guy might fit into what he plans to run on offense and defense, his perspective on their skill set, and him generally getting a better feel for who these guys are as people by being in the room has real value. Some things might translate over tape or via communications with staff who are present, but in the end I’m sure even Luke would say nothing can fully replace being present.

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In the past week, names like Brian Shaw and Chris DeMarco have been floated as possible options as assistant coaches on Luke Walton’s staff. DeMarco is familiar with Walton due to ties with the Warriors where DeMarco is a player development coach after working in the video room and in advance scouting. Shaw, of course, has ties to Walton from their time with the Lakers where Shaw as an assistant while Luke a player on Phil Jackson’s teams.

Both guys fit the mold of the type of theoretical staff I would imagine Walton would build. They offer a mix of young and experienced, a guy who worked his way up through an organization and a former player who has championship experience on the floor and from the bench. Finding the right balance, I think, is vital for any staff, but especially for a coach like Walton who needs to surround himself with like minded guys, but also those with more experience with him who can offer a varied perspective and, at times, challenge him as he strives to improve as a first time head coach (and not just an interim one).

This is all speculation on my part, though. Luke Walton has not gone on the record of what he’s looking for in his staff and the names floated were, themselves, based on speculative reports from league and Warriors’ insiders. But while we don’t have insight from Luke, we do, luckily, have some from Mitch Kupchak who spoke with the media on Friday about Walton’s hiring. And in those comments, Kupchack hinted at the type of assistant Walton and the Lakers (who will have input on this) will be looking for.

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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 not 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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Luke Walton’s hiring rightfully gives Lakers fans hope that the team is trying (at least now) to rebuild in the right ways. The move evidences a humility the team has not seen before — instead of hiring some insider that can restore the team to glory by reinforcing what the Lakers did in the good old days, Luke has been brought here largely to pass on wisdom gained from other spheres in the modern era (during which the Lakers have been a failure).

Yes, Luke has substantial experience within the organization, but that is not the only reason he has the job; he is the coach because of what he learned and experienced in Golden State’s first rate organization. To me, this admission that the Lakers have something to learn from the way others do things is a real turning point in their rebuild, as it suggests a willingness to embrace the revolution. And I do believe that Luke is probably the ideal candidate to bring us into the modern times, even if he (and the team) has much learning yet to do.

And there is a long, long ways to go. Trying to diagnose what went wrong with the Lakers this year is kind of like trying to pinpoint what went wrong when the economy crashed nearly a decade ago – there were too many terrifying problems to find just a single tipping point. The team was a spectacle of dysfunction and incompetence, and following it day in and day out was painful.

This piece will attempt to analyze one aspect of these struggles – the team’s offensive problems. Note the emphasis on team, as I will, largely, not look at the performance issues of individual players, and instead focus on team characteristics. For example, this analysis will look at things like what kinds of shots the team took, rather than Kobe’s TS%. This post will also not look at defense, which deserves a separate analysis, given the team’s last place finish in defensive efficiency.

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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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