Less than a week after parting ways with Byron Scott, the Los Angeles Lakers have found their new leader on the sidelines. General Manager Mitch Kupchak made it clear that the team wasn’t going to drag out the process of hiring a new head, and he stuck to his word on Friday night.
According to Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report on April 29, the Lakers have agreed to terms with Luke Walton:
Lakers have agreed to terms with Luke Walton to be their next head coach, according to team sources.
Once the news broke about Scott being fired by the Lakers, speculation began to run rampant in Los Angeles about who would be the next in line. Walton quickly emerged as the fan favorite and the top potential target for the storied franchise.
Many other notable names were mentioned as candidates for the Lakers before Walton was ultimately hired by the team. Los Angeles had been linked to Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson, Kevin Ollie and Ettore Messina, but Walton was so impressive in the interview, the team offered him a job on the spot, via Ding:
Walton killed interview with Jim Buss & Mitch Kupchak, showing all he has learned about coaching. Lakers decided to lock him up immediately.
With Walton now in the fold, the first-time head coach will have an incredibly tough challenge ahead of him. Walton takes over a team that finished with a franchise-worst 17 wins last season and a lot of uncertainty surrounding the future of the franchise once Kobe Bryant walked away on April 13.
Fortunately for Walton, there will be plenty of opportunities to upgrade the roster during the offseason. The Lakers may have a top-three pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, if able to retain their pick, and will have enough cap space to sign two max players in free agency.
Although no one is dubbing the Lakers a title contender or even a playoff team with the addition of Walton, the team can continue to make changes this summer to steer the franchise in the right direction.