When Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton isn’t obsessing over helping lead the team back to prominence, one of his favorite pastimes is playing beach volleyball. He’s somewhat of a regular on the Southern California circuit.
Walton has been joined in the past by former USC Trojans and NFL quarterback Matt Leinart, and Spectrum SportsNet host Chris McGee. Walton was recently part of a 4 vs. 4 match that was arranged by brothers Riley and Maddison McKibbin.
The teams featured professional players in Sean Rosenthal, Casey Patterson and Stafford Slick, as well as former NBA Players Richard Jefferson and Chase Budinger. Jefferson, who like Walton graduated from the University of Arizona, has raved about his volleyball skills in the past.
Although Walton is five years removed from his playing days on the hardwood, he’s a formidable presence in the sand. Walton utilized his frame to block, spike and set up shots, at times getting the better of Jefferson.
As for his coaching duties, Walton and the Lakers face the most crucial offseason in recent memory. With a young core that’s shown plenty of promise and ample salary cap space, the Lakers are projected to take another step forward in their progression.
An expectation has long held president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka will pursue LeBron James and Paul George. Though, the Lakers front office has stressed caution and patience, mentioning 2019 free agency as a option to make a big splash.
George is the perceived free agent who’s most likely to sign with the Lakers, largely because of his Southern California roots. Meanwhile, what James may ultimately elect is much more of an unknown. He reportedly is willing to play off ball, which led to speculation the Philadelphia 76ers could emerge as a serious suitor.
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