The Los Angeles Lakers wasted little time finding their next head coach after firing Byron Scott on April 24. Although the front office had a long list to choose from, which included a well-balanced mix of experienced NBA and college coaches, the Lakers brass elected to go with the guy many considered the favorite candidate going in, Luke Walton.
After leading the Golden State Warriors to an outstanding 39-4 record in the absence of head coach Steve Kerr, including a 24-0 start, Walton quickly emerged as one of the hottest head coaching candidates in the entire NBA.
While the soon-to-be first year NBA head coach is still finishing his assistant coaching duties with the Warriors, Walton officially signed his five-year contract with the Lakers on Thursday as was announced by Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak:
Luke Walton officially signed his contract last night, effective once the Warriors season ends Kupchak says (via @TWCSportsNet)
— Lakers Nation (@LakersNation) May 6, 2016
Many were surprised with how quickly the Lakers moved to secure Walton as their next head coach. Kupchak even admitted that Walton potentially not being available next year contributed in their decision to let go of Scott.
Though he won’t have the roster that the Warriors possess, Walton knows that he has a young core led by D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, and Jordan Clarkson and over $60 million in cap space that will hopefully help lure free agents come July 1.
With Walton potentially busy until well into June, the Lakers’ front office has already started working on filling in the rest of his coaching staff. Since the 36-year-old is going to be new to the role, the team is reportedly looking to hire assistants with head coaching experience. Former Lakers assistant and Denver Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw and former Houston Rockets interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff have both been rumored as potential candidates to join Walton’s staff.