Lakers HC Luke Walton: Building Relationship with LeBron James Is 'Top Priority'

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJuly 11, 2018

LOS ANGELES - JANUARY 27:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers drives against Luke Walton #4 of the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on January 27, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2008 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton believes meshing with the newly signed LeBron James is key to the team's success moving forward.

In an interview with The Athletic's Bill Oram on Tuesday, Walton said: "Every case is unique and different. I have to build a relationship with LeBron; that's going to be a top priority for me. ... Getting to know him and having him get to know me, and then we go from there."

LeBron officially signed a four-year, $153 million deal with the Lakers on Monday.

Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times reported last week that Walton planned to meet with Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue this week in Las Vegas while the coaches are in town for summer league to discuss all that goes along with coaching James.

Per ESPN.com's Dave McMenamin, Walton was among those who called Lue after it was announced that LeBron would be leaving Cleveland for L.A.

Walton also reportedly reached out to Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra to gain some insight related to Spoelstra's four years of coaching James.

According to McMenamin, Lue said:

"I just want to let him know, the s--- that people say and you read, Bron's not like that. Like, they make it seem like he's hard on the coach, he's hard on [the organization]. He's nothing like that. That's the most important thing I want to convey with him: that he's not like that.

"My biggest thing is the zoo comes from just the outside media. It's really not coming from within because everybody he deals with—Maverick [Carter], Randy [Mims], all those guys—are professional. So it won't be no problem from any of those guys, and Bron carries himself the right way. So the biggest part is just having to deal with the media scrutiny. But he's not like that. I don't want people thinking Bron's an a--h--- or Bron's this and that because he's not."

Aside from James, the biggest link between Walton and Lue is Brian Shaw.

Shaw is Walton's associate head coach, and he was also a teammate of Lue's with the Lakers in 1999-00 and 2000-01.

Walton is set to enter his third season as the Lakers' head coach, and he has made steady progress thus far. After going 26-56 in 2016-17, he led L.A. to a 35-47 mark last season.

Now that LeBron is on board, however, the expectations have changed from steady improvement to championship contention.

Toppling the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference will be an incredibly tall task, but with James and several other additions in the fold, the Lakers should end their five-year playoff drought in 2018-19 at the least.