When the Los Angeles Lakers hired Luke Walton to become their head coach prior to the 2016-17 NBA season, they were in the middle of their rebuilding process and the focus was on the young core’s development. Two years later, the Lakers have improved by 18 wins and there are championship aspirations with LeBron James’ arrival.
At 38 years old and with two years of head coaching experience, Walton is extremely young and was actually in the same 2003 NBA Draft class as James. With an opportunity to coach one of the best players of all time, Walton is already doing his part to ensure a successful relationship.
Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue, who coached James for 2.5 seasons, provided some advice to Walton as they reportedly met for breakfast during the Las Vegas Summer League, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
“I just want to let him know, the s— that people say and you read, Bron’s not like that,” Lue said. “Like, they make it seem like he’s hard on the coach, he’s hard on [the organization]. He’s nothing like that. That’s the most important thing I want to convey with him: that he’s not like that.
In addition, Walton has reached out to Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra, who coached him for four seasons:
Walton has also reached out to Spoelstra to pick his brain about coaching James, sources told ESPN.
Heading into the 2018-19 NBA season, Walton is preparing himself to coach James and there is no better way than learning from two head coaches who won championships with him. While there will be adjustments made to maximize James’ strengths, Walton’s focus will likely remain on ball movement and pace.
As the Lakers are currently participating at Summer League, all eyes will be on the team’s regular season opener and their starting lineup. While James and the young core will be competitive in the Western Conference, Kawhi Leonard’s future with the San Antonio Spurs remains unclear.
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