Shortly after making his debut for Time Warner, Walton was hired by the Los Angeles D-Fenders to become their players development coach this season. Although Walton hasn’t been able to find work in the NBA this season, the veteran forward was expected to seek a future as a coach at some level.
Walton has received a lot of recognition during his time as a player. 11-time NBA champion and former Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson referred to Walton as the smartest player his ever coached.
With the D-Fenders reaching out to Walton, the Arizona alum has an opportunity to get a taste of coaching NBA-caliber player in the NBADL. It may be only a matter of time before Walton ends up in an assistant coach role in the NBA.[showhide]EL SEGUNDO – The Los Angeles D-Fenders have hired Luke Walton as a player development coach, it was announced today by team President/CEO Joey Buss.
“We are very excited to add Luke to our staff,” said Buss. “His championship experience will help build upon the winning culture that has been established with the D-Fenders. His extensive and successful NBA career will allow him to instill the work ethic it requires for our players to reach the NBA.”
“Luke has been a consummate professional throughout his career,” said D-Fenders General Manager Nick Mazzella. “Having played on two Lakers championship teams, Luke is aware of the hard work and type of culture required to win. He will be a valuable mentor to our players and will dedicate himself to improving their basketball skills and advancing their careers. We couldn’t be happier to have him join our talented coaching staff.”
Walton has spent the last 11 seasons playing in the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers. Most recently, he appeared in 50 games with the Cavaliers during the 2012-13 season. The University of Arizona alumnus was selected with the 32nd overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft by the Lakers and helped lead the team to back-to-back NBA Championships in 2009 and 2010. Walton has appeared in 564 career regular season games (138 starts), posting averages of 4.7 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 17.2 minutes. Walton also served as an assistant coach on the University of Memphis basketball staff during the 2011 NBA lockout.
“I’m thrilled to be returning to the Lakers family,” said Walton. “I’m looking forward to working with the staff to develop young talent that can benefit the D-Fenders and the NBA. The D-Fenders have a proven record of developing top-flight players, and I plan to continue that tradition.”
Walton, a San Diego native, begins his first season as a player development coach. He is the third addition to Head Coach Bob MacKinnon’s staff, joining assistant coaches Casey Owens and Thomas Scott.[/showhide]