by Charlie O. Mallonee
To no one’s surprise, Sam Amick of theathletic.com reported earlier today that the Sacramento Kings had reached an agreement in principle with Luke Walton to become the next head coach of the team replacing Dave Joerger. Most reporters and analysts were speculating that Vlade Divac wanted Walton even before he parted ways with the Lakers.
There is no reason to doubt Amick’s reports. He has covered the Kings for years and has the respect of the front office. Amick is not a reporter who bites on the first shiny object in the water. If he did not feel there was real credence to the information he received, Amick would not have reported it.
The move also makes sense because the Kings reportedly tried to lure Walton to become their head coach before they hired Dave Joerger. Walton did not become a candidate for the Sacramento job at that time because the Lakers were pursuing him at the same time.
Walton will have Vlade’s trust
Walton and Divac were Lakers teammates in 2004-05 which was Divac’s final year as a player. They know each other well which is important to Divac who seems to very comfortable having an inner circle that is very familiar to him.
That can also be a detriment. One of the roles Walton may be able to play is to urge Divac to open up and expand the Kings front office to bring in more experienced executives to assist him in running the operation.
Because Walton will have an instant credibility factor with Divac, he will probably be included in making personnel decisions where Joerger was never included in that part of the operation. We know that because Joerger made no secret about his lack of involvement in personnel decisions.
Walton also is from the Steve Kerr coaching tree
Walton is known for the incredible job he did filling in Steve Kerr when he was out due to medical issues. Walton led Golden State to a 39-4 record until Kerr was able to return to the bench.
Walton got off to a solid start with the Lakers in his first year as head coach, but ran into a firestorm when LeBron James joined the team in his second season the head man. LeBron not only cost Walton his job, but convinced Magic Johnson to bail out as President of Basketball Pperations. James manages to suck the air out of any team that he is a part of as a player, de facto coach, and de facto general manager.
Walton has his work cut out for himself
Walton has some strong returning players in De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Marvin Bagley III, and Harry Giles III. Will Harrison Barnes invoke his $25-million option? Should the Kings resign or match offers for Willie Cauley-Stein? Who should the team pursue in free agency?
Sacramento finished nine games out the playoffs this season. It will be no easy task to break into the playoff tournament next season, but Walton will have four years to make this team a success.
Walton will be a different personality
Where Joerger was an introverted, close to the vest personality, Walton will an open, upfront star in front of the cameras. He will be a PR star for the Kings. That will be of help on an on-going basis. It will be something they haven’t had in long. long time. The fans and media will love it.