Before coaching the Los Angeles Lakers, Luke Walton dipped his feet into the coaching realm of basketball on different occasions. During the NBA lockout, he was an assistant coach at the University of Memphis. In the NBA D-League, he was a development coach for the Los Angeles Defenders and in the NBA, he was an assistant alongside Steve Kerr and the Golden State Warriors.
During these multiple stops, Walton learned instances of coaching, through first-hand experience and from those that have paved the way. His mentors include Kerr, Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich, as he has taken bits and pieces of their ideologies and instilled them upon the Lakers.
Being a head coach in the NBA, let alone a rookie head coach, requires constant planning and work. When not conducting practices, they can be found in the film room or conversing about any ideas. The mental frustration can tack on, especially when not coaching a team like the 73-9 Warriors.
Walton sat down for an interview with Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, where he touched on many topics. However, Walton remained adamant that for him, time management is the key to producing results each day:
“…Time management is a huge part of this job because, like you said, there is a million things that need to be done and there is people coming at you from every direction, so it is important to prioritize what we as a group need to accomplish in a certain day and have boundaries of how much you’re willing to do that day. For me, I have two young kids too, so it’s also important to me that I don’t neglect that part of my life either.”
During the offseason, the young core was able to connect with Walton periodically, during voluntary workouts and scrimmages at their practice facilities. The young core is eager to learn and grow under Walton, as the new era of Lakers basketball in fully underway.
After an exhilarating beginning to the NBA season, the Lakers have been brought back down to earth with multiple injuries. The Lakers started their season with quality victories, even sparking debate as to their postseason contention.
However, injuries to D’Angelo Russell (knee), Nick Young (calf), Jose Calderon (hamstring) and Tarik Black (ankle) saw them down four players to the Houston Rockets on Wednesday. The injuries have required constant alterations for Walton, as he attempts to play through this challenging stretch.
The blowout victories can take their toll on a coach, causing stress even when Walton understands his team isn’t at full strength. However, he still doesn’t let it affect his mindset in his life outside of basketball.
With the constant interactions with his kids, his wife, and his family, Walton can find balance in all facets of life:
“I think, for multiple reasons, for me personally as a I coach, if I am in the office, all day, in the film room, breaking things down and I don’t have any balance in my life, it’s going to affect the way I coach. It’s going to affect the way I respond to stressful situations and the way I respond to losing. For me, it’s very important to make sure that I’m fulfilling the other parts of my life. Being a father, being a husband, you know, talking on the phone with my brothers even if I’m busy and I don’t have time to do it. I still make sure that I get that stuff done because it keeps me grounded, it keeps my head level to where I can make better decisions as a coach.”
During the interview, Walton said that he picked up a few tricks from Kerr on how to ease the stress off himself. The pair would do a yoga class on game days, to empty their head and keep them level going into the game.
Also, Kerr and Walton didn’t like the aspect of being cramped in a film room for an extended period of time. The open-minded philosophies these coaches have implemented are a part of the evolving NBA.
As head coaches attempt to ride through the rigors of coaching, they can provide a comfortable atmosphere for their players to thrive in. As the son of Bill Walton, it seems as though Luke is truly engulfed in finding the right balance amongst his busy schedule.