Heading into a third season as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, the focus for Luke Walton and the team has shifted from developing the young core to competing for championships.
With Walton having an opportunity to coach LeBron James, he expressed his excitement and that he does not feel any added pressure for the 2018-19 NBA season and moving forward.
Along with James, one of the major storylines will be how Walton manages Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo and Michael Beasley. While these free agent signings will provide much-needed depth, they all have unique personalities and reputations.
Viewed as a player’s coach, Walton explained he believes it is ultimately a good problem to have on “Connected With…Luke Walton,” via Spectrum SportsNet:
“Would you rather not have players to fill those minutes? To me, this is awesome. This is an opportunity. We have 10, 11, 12 guys that can honestly play NBA minutes. We’re trying to get up there and compete with these teams that have been there for years now. They have really good players on their team. So we’re going to need our five, six, seven, eight guys on that depth chart to outplay their other five, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth guy on their depth chart to win. Like I said about competing against each other, you get 5-on-5 of guys who are fighting for minutes and just pride and whatnot, it brings up the level of play on your team and how you look at competition. We’re going to need all of these guys.”
Since the Lakers do have 10-12 players who deserve minutes, Walton is doing his part to learn about his eight new players. Throughout the offseason, the 38-year-old has reached out to their former head coaches to discuss what motivates them so he can approach different situations the best way he can.
With training camp opening Tuesday, it will take time for the team to learn how to play together. With Walton’s experience playing for head coach Phil Jackson and playing with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, there is optimism he can eventually lead the Lakers to their 17th championship.