Luke Walton hasn’t played much for the Lakers over the past two seasons, due to a combination of injuries and a diminished skill set relative to the rest of the talent on the roster. In his eight seasons in Los Angeles, however, he’s long been regarded as one of the more cerebral players on the team.
Now, with the NBA two months into a lockout that doesn’t have an end in sight, Walton will have a chance to share his knowledge of the game with young players in an official capacity.
The University of Memphis has hired Walton as an assistant coach, according to a report from Jason Smith of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. As is the case more often than not in college coaching circles, there’s a connection here. Walton played under current Memphis head coach Josh Pastner back in college at the University of Arizona, when Pastner worked under Lute Olson as a graduate assistant.
Walton’s knowledge of the game is extensive, but the coaching game is also about motivating and relating to the younger players you’re trying to teach. This is a great opportunity for Walton to get some experience in those areas, while waiting to see if his services will be needed by his current employer in the coming months.
And for Lakers fans wondering if this development will preclude Walton from contributing the 1.7 points per game he averaged for the team last season, fear not: Walton’s deal allows him to leave just as soon as the NBA is back in business.