Mitch Kupchak Discusses Hiring Luke Walton, Front Office's Role in Lakers Future

Joe Pantorno@@JoePantornoFeatured ColumnistMay 6, 2016

Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak speaks to reporters at team headquarters in El Segundo, Calif., Friday, April 15, 2016. With Kobe Bryant's $25 million salary, ravenous shot selection and dominant personality gone from the basketball team after 20 years, Kupchak says he will meet with head coach Byron Scott and owner Jim Buss in a few days to discuss their options for the Lakers, which finished with the NBA's second-worst record at 17-65 in Bryant's farewell season. (AP Photo/Greg Beacham)
Greg Beacham/Associated Press

There's a new hope for the Los Angeles Lakers, and it has come in the form of an ex-player who is assisting the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Semifinals: Luke Walton.

The Lakers hired the 36-year-old April 29, and he will join the team as soon as the Warriors' season comes to a close. But Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak updated the media Friday, noting Walton signed his contract Thursday night, per Bill Oram of the Orange County Register.

Kupchak is eager to get Walton to Los Angeles, though, per Oram:

Bill Oram @billoram

Kupchak: "We hope (uuke Walton) continues coaching into June but we also want to get him here as soon as possible."

Kupchak and his new head coach "text daily," but the Lakers GM wants to make sure Walton can stay focused on the Warriors' playoff run, per Mike Trudell of Lakers.com. 

Walton has also been in contact with his future players, and Kupchak believes he will be able to connect with them better than former head coach Byron Scott did, per Trudell:

Mike Trudell @LakersReporter

Kupchak on Luke w/young players: "His generation is closer to the players of today. It’s a good thing he can relate better than I can.”

Considering Walton isn't a seasoned coach, Kupchak disclosed that the front office will be involved in the locker room. Because Walton will be a first-year head coach, Kupchak said there's a "strong possibility" that the assistants he'll bring in will have head coaching experience, per Oram.

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In order to hire Walton, the Lakers first had to fire Scott, who went 38-126 in two years with the team. Kupchak stated the possibility of Walton going elsewhere put things into motion, per Oram

Kupchak expects the Walton-led Lakers to play a different style of basketball compared to last year, per Trudell. Walton will likely implement a fast-paced offense that is similar to Golden State's and bring on another coach to focus on defense.

He'll lead a roster that could look significantly different, too, especially after the retirement of Kobe Bryant. With a loaded free-agency class headlined by Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant set to hit the market in the summer, the Lakers could try to make a big splash.

On top of that, there is a possibility that the Lakers would trade the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft if they get it, sources told Fox Sports' Colin Cowherd

So by the time Lakers fans see Walton patrolling the sidelines at Staples Center, their team could look different and improved.


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