The Los Angeles Lakers have hired former Lakers player and current top Golden State Warriors assistant Luke Walton as their next head coach, the team announced tonight.
Walton only retired from playing in 2013, but has made a fast rise up the coaching ranks. He joined the Warriors staff in 2014, and was promoted to top assistant in 2015 after Alvin Gentry left to coach the Pelicans. He was unexpectedly thrust into an interim coaching role this season after Steve Kerr suffered from complications from back surgery, and gamely led the Warriors to a 24-0 start and 39-4 record before Kerr returned.
Walton was on most shortlists for open jobs, and already talked to Knicks president Phil Jackson about that opening. It was thought that Walton might hold out for something better than a rebuilding job, and the Lakers are certainly that, but it seems the allure of coaching the Lakers—with whom he won two titles in nine seasons—was too much.
In taking the job, Walton is going against the advice of his Hall of Fame father Bill. Bill Walton earlier said his son should stick with the Warriors, and then two days ago said that he shouldn’t take the Lakers job because “head coaching jobs are open for a reason.”
Walton will take over once the Warriors’ season is over.