“New Leader-New Roster-New Era”
The new coach used all the right phrases in his first ever head coaching press conference.
“Changing the culture”. “Work ethic”. “Accountability”. “Having Fun”.
And so Luke Walton now inherits a young LA Lakers roster, which has never experienced winning. He has a massive hole at center. He has no veteran leadership at guard. He has undersized forwards.
What he does have is the 2nd pick in the opening round of the draft tonight, as well as pick #32 in an exceptionally athletic draft, and he has 66M in salary cap space.
The Lakers could roll out a pretty good college team next season, with Duke rookie Brandon Ingram, joining young forward Julius Randle, the kid guard DeAngelo Russell, the shooter Jordan Clarkson and some other NBA D-League level players.
What Walton needs, aside from his philosphy, and sales-pitch, will be veterans to keep the team competitive.
Back in the day, the Lakers were a destination point. Not so much anymore.
The NBA free agent list is loaded with well travelled-well tested veterans. Would a 38-year old Dirk Nowitzke consider finishing his career in Los Angeles, after so many great years, but rather unrewarding finishes, in Dallas?
Does an Al Horford, who labored for years in the bad juju that was Atlanta Hawks basketball, take a payday to come West?
Does a Jokim Noah, headed out of Chicago, make sense to bring stability to that very young starting five?
Mike Conley of Memphis and DeMar DeRozan of Toronto surely deserve paydays, and why not LA, to forge a new career?
Tonight will be a glimpse of where they are headed.
Luke Walton is very much excited to have this head coaching job, and his (39-4) interim record with Golden State, provided him with live-action learning under fire.
That being said though, there will be no Steph Curry-Klay Thompson type talent to go get him points and rebounds, and create victories in LA..
What Walton has beginning tonight at 5pm, will be opportunities, for a top pick, and then for incoming free agents to make a difference.
You can have all the training in the world, carry a briefcase full of philosphical sayings, and draw up all the schemes in the world, but you still need talent, firepower, tenacity and experience. Not much of that around the hallways at the Staples Center or their practice facility in El Segundo..
The Lakers don’t have enough yet, but Luke Walton can help get them some, beginning tonight.
Thhis franchise did not go bad in just 1-season. It’s going to take more than 1-season to bring them back.