Luke Walton on on balancing Warriors-Lakers, Curry’s health, Kobe as assistant
Lakers coach Luke Walton joined the show to talk about his new gig and much more. Here is some of his back-and-forth with Dan.
DP: When is your wife due?
LW: Two days away.
DP: Do you have names picked out?
LW: We do, but I’m not allowed to say any of them. I told the coaching staff in Golden State one of the names and they crushed it. So that name is off off the list.
DP: Oh no.
LW: That was part of the plan behind it. I wasn’t that into the name anyway. I’m no longer allowed to share the names.
DP: This has been a wild couple of weeks for you. Trying to win a title in Golden State, taking over for the Lakers, the Draft, having a baby ….
LW: They are all exciting things. Unfortunately the first thing, trying to win a championship, didn’t happen. Still an amazing year. We had a 24-hour turnaround to get down to L.A. It’s a little bit of an emotional roller-coaster around here.
DP: Do you know how injured Steph Curry was during the Finals?
LW: I’m not sure. I know his knee was obviously hurting him. Steph never complains about it. He continued to show up and play. I had to leave at 10 a.m. the next morning [after Game 7] so I haven’t had time to talk to many people up there since I’ve left so I don’t know where he’s standing.
DP: Would you be surprised if Curry has surgery at some point?
LW: Yeah. When I was around, there was no talk of it. He was getting treatment twice a day every day. I’m sure they’re going to reevaluate.
DP: How much were you able to be involved with Lakers decisions when you were coaching in Golden State?
LW: Not a lot. The plan was that were my priorities were to finish my job with Golden State and do everything I could to try to win a title up there. That’s a lot of time and effort with film and staff meetings. The Lakers were great respecting that.
When I did have free time I’d be on the phone with Mitch talking about different things. But they’re the ones who’ve been down here in the War room all day, watching tape, working players out. It’s a team sport and I’m very confident they know what they’re doing.
DP: Your former college teammate good friend Richard Jefferson told me that you won’t give him a job as an assistant. Do you think he should return to the Cavs?
LW: He had an incredible year for being 50 years old. It is so hard to win an NBA championship. It’s draining. You just don’t know if you can do it again. But I think in a month from now when he’s just relaxing and it’s hit home, he’ll realize how fun that was and how much he wants to do it again. He’s obviously physically able to keep doing it. If that’s the case, you have to keep playing.
DP: Did you need the chance to take over as interim head coach for the Warriors to get a full-time head coaching job?
LW: I think so. Because of the success we had in Golden State, my name would have been tossed around, but there probably still would have been questions that if at my age I could lead a team. Those are fair questions to ask. There’s no way to really know. The normal process takes longer. Which is kind of what I thought anyway. No one expects to get a head coaching job after two years. But with Steve [Kerr] going down and the players stepping up and having the success we did, that sped up the process.
DP: How about Kobe Bryant as an assistant coach?
LW: If Kobe wants to come work as my assistant, I would love to boss him around. He bossed me around for so many years, I’d even pay a little extra to be his boss. But picturing Kobe as an assistant coach … I can’t really see it.