Luke Walton had a solid 10-year career as an NBA reserve where he won a couple of rings as a cog in Phil Jackson’s triangle, but he may be catching a few more eyes now as the “interim” coach of the 28-2 Golden State Warriors. Walton continues in that position Saturday, the rumors that Steve Kerr was going to be back and take over in the big chair turned out to be false.
Looking back, a lot of the people around Walton through his playing days saw a future coach, something Diamond Leung lays out beautifully in a story for the San Jose Mercury News.
Kobe Bryant threw out maybe the most interesting comments.
“I used to tease him when he was playing here about he’s destined to be a much better coach than a player,” Bryant said. “I used to rib him all the time. He didn’t want to hear it because he didn’t have the coaching bug yet, but I could see it in him. It was there. It was just a matter of time.
“He’s extremely smart. He always saw the game in combinations and sequences. … I kind of just chuckle a little bit at it, because I see he’s thinking in threes. Most coaches think in combinations of twos, but he’s thinking in threes. This pass leads to that pass is going to lead to that one. And I remember sitting in the locker room and going over this stuff with him.”
Walton will get a long look by a couple of teams making a head coaching change around the league. The buzz that I heard (and a lot of others have as well) is that Phoenix has interest if/when they move on from Jeff Hornacek. Walton will be in a position to decide whether that organization is one he wants to join — he will have options.
And he will be the only coach in the league with a Grateful Dead tattoo. Well, as far as we know. Nobody has ever asked Gregg Popovich about it.