Luke Walton Golden State
Golden State interim coach Luke Walton watches as Draymond Green (center) and Stephen Curry take the floor against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Nov. 12, 2015.
(Jordan Johnson/Getty Images)

Luke Walton's Coaching Resume

by Joey Ramirez
Digital Reporter

Luke Walton’s coaching career has been anything but lengthy.

The new head coach of the Lakers retired from playing only three years ago, but already ascended as one of the league’s top candidates for next season, thanks primarily to an unprecedented run as Golden State’s interim coach.

However, Walton’s coaching career extends back before he had even hung up his sneakers. While with the Lakers during the 2011 lockout, he took up a job as an assistant under Josh Pastner at the University of Memphis.

Walton remained with the Tigers until the lockout ended in December, as they rose to as high as No. 8 in the nation. Led by captain and current Laker Tarik Black and Denver Nugget Will Barton, Memphis went on to win the Conference USA title with a 26-9 record.

“It’s an opportunity not about just finding a job with the lockout going,” Walton told the Associated Press at the time. “It’s a lot bigger for me. It’s huge as far as learning about coaching.”

After retiring in 2013, Walton remained in basketball by juggling coaching and broadcasting. He served as a Lakers analyst for Time Warner Cable SportsNet during the 2013-14 season, while also taking up the job of Player Development Coach for the Lakers’ D-League team, the Los Angeles D-Fenders.

“Having played on two Lakers championship teams, Luke is aware of the hard work and type of culture required to win,” D-Fenders General Manager Nick Mazzella said after the hiring. “He will be a valuable mentor to our players and will dedicate himself to improving their basketball skills and advancing their careers.”

Led by 31.6 points per game by Manny Harris — who would be called up to the Lakers that season — the D-Fenders finished the season with a 31-19 record and the West Division title, though they fell in the first round of the playoffs.

From there, Walton took an assistant gig with Golden State under new head coach Steve Kerr for the 2014-15 season. The Warriors had lost in the first round of the playoffs the year before, but Kerr and co. helped elevate the team to a championship in their first season running the show.

The following year, Kerr was unavailable to coach the team for more than half of the season due to complications resulting from his offseason back surgery.

Golden State’s staff included defensive guru Ron Adams and 10-year NBA veteran Jarron Collins, but Walton was chosen to lead in Kerr’s stead.

Under Walton and Kerr’s direction, the Warriors started the season with 24 straight victories, shattering the previous record of 15 and earning Walton the Coach of the Month award for games played in October and November.

Dating back to the previous season, the Warriors’ 28 consecutive wins were the second-most in NBA history, behind only the 1971-72 Lakers, who tallied 33 in a row.

Despite Walton guiding Golden State to a nearly unrivaled 39-4 start before Kerr returned to the sideline, he was credited with zero wins or losses due to an NBA rule that mandates that each game is a mark on Kerr’s record, not Walton’s.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” Kerr told ESPN.com in November. “I’m sitting in the locker room and watching the games on TV, and I’m not even traveling to most of the road games. Luke’s doing all the work with the rest of the staff. Luke is (19-0, at the time) right now. I’m not.”

Golden State finished the year by going 73-9, breaking the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls’ record for most wins in a season. Walton received one second-place and two third-place votes for Coach of the Year, which was won by Kerr, who had Walton join him on stage for the award ceremony.

Now, the Warriors look to secure back-to-back titles before Walton joins the Lakers, as was announced on Friday.

“The (challenge with Golden State) was to take a good team that had already established themselves and trying to make them great,” Walton said the next day. “With the team in L.A., we need to go down there and build a foundation. … We’re trying to set the foundation for how we want to play, what’s acceptable, the style of play, how we compete — all these things.”

Next season, the wins and losses all start falling on Walton’s record. He has already stated that he plans to run similar offensive style and pacing as the one the Warriors use.

After finishing his run at Golden State, the next challenge is to get ready for the draft, free agency and, of course, his first year at the reins of the purple and gold.

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