Walton guided the Warriors to a 39-4 record in 2015-16 while head coach Steve Kerr recovered from back surgery. On Friday, he spoke about what lies ahead for him in Los Angeles and looked back on his time with Golden State on Kerr's staff, per ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne.
"I loved everything about my time at Golden State and learning from Steve," he said. "I'll forever be grateful to him, the organization and the team. But I have always dreamed of being a head coach and the chance to do that for an organization like the Lakers doesn't come around very often."
The team's official announcement indicated the former Lakers forward will be the historic franchise's 26th head coach, succeeding Byron Scott—another former L.A. player—who was fired after posting a 17-65 mark, the worst single-season record in Lakers history.
Bleacher Report's Kevin Ding reported Walton "killed" his interview with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and co-owner Jim Buss. Shelburne reported Walton interviewed for the job in Oakland on Thursday, so it didn't take long for the Los Angeles brass to be sold on him.
A source also told Shelburne that Walton was the only candidate L.A. interviewed and the top choice for its coaching vacancy, per ESPN.com.
Having witnessed championship basketball firsthand in 2008-09 and 2009-10 as a Lakers player and last year during his time with the Warriors, Walton knows what it takes to reach the NBA's mountaintop and what a winning culture looks like.
After a woeful tenure for Scott, the hope is Walton can establish himself as a credible leader and ignite a turnaround.
Legendary guard Kobe Bryant is no longer on the team, which frees up cap space for Kupchak and Co. to upgrade the roster. Acquiring top-tier talent is of paramount importance for Walton to have success.
There's nowhere else to go but up for Los Angeles after the team finished dead last in the Western Conference this season. Walton ought to have at least a couple of seasons to turn things around, but with a lottery draft pick this year and room to add free agents, expectations are sure to rise soon enough.
The Warriors didn't miss a beat under Walton's guidance en route to a record-breaking 73-9 regular-season record. That bodes well for his ability to deal with the scrutiny that will come as part of the territory with the Lakers job.