It’s going to be another long season for the Los Angeles Lakers and their fans. The organization may be free of having to defer to an overpaid, past-his-prime Kobe Bryant while finally addressing its future in the proper manner, but that hardly means the process will be either quick or easy.
Look no further than the words of brand new Lakers coach Luke Walton for proof. Walton, who assumed his duties just a day after the Golden State Warriors were wiped out of the Finals by LeBron James and the Cavaliers, spoke to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News on Friday and said plenty of things that would lead one to believe that even he knows it’s going to take some time to get Los Angeles back to its storied, winning ways.
“Are we competing? Are we playing for each other? Are we selfless? Is the ball moving? If we feel like we’re playing with those intentions and that effort, that to me is a successful season,” he explained.
Read that quote again. No mention of wins or losses or any other measurable results. The kind of abstract concepts Walton, who is signed up to coach the Lakers for five years, is discussing may bode well for a young team down the road. But they also pretty much guarantee a losing season.
Which, by the way, isn’t the worst thing in the world! The Lakers have plenty of young talent in No. 2 overall pick Brandon Ingram, last year’s first-rounders D’Angelo Russell and Larry Nance Jr., and third-year man Julius Randle. There’s veteran leadership on the roster in Luol Deng, Timofey Mozgov and Jose Calderon to help Walton guide all the youngsters. And Walton is coming from a team in the Warriors that won and won big over the past two years, which should lend him plenty of credibility.
Whatever the Lakers are to become moving forward won’t be reflected all that much in 2016-2017. But to hear Walton talk, he knows this and is OK with it.
“We’ve started building relationships with our players. I think that’s a big key to coaching,” Walton said. “We’ve made it a fun and enjoyable place for them to come to work out, train and get better. I think that’s a big reason why, even though it’s optional, a lot of the guys are coming in.”
(via Los Angeles Daily News)