Los Angeles (AFP) – The Los Angeles Lakers reached an agreement to hire Luke Walton as their new coach, making the former player and current assistant with Golden State the 26th coach in franchise history.
The 36-year-old Walton will remain with the Warriors until the end of the current season.
Walton served as the interim coach for Golden State at the start of this season and led them to a 39-4 record, including an NBA-record 24-0 start. Walton switched back to assistant coach when Steve Kerr returned after recovering from back surgery.
“We’re excited to bring Luke back to Los Angeles, where we feel he’s going to start an outstanding coaching career,” Laker general manager Mitch Kupchak said Friday.
“He’s one of the brightest young coaching minds in the game and we feel fortunate that he’ll be leading the on-court future of our team.”
Walton replaces Byron Scott, who was fired by the Lakers on Sunday. Scott posted a dismal 38-126 record in two seasons as the Lakers head coach. Los Angeles finished with a franchise worst record of 17-65 last season which also marked the final one for long-time Laker star Kobe Bryant.
Walton is in his second season with the Warriors. After his decade long NBA playing career ended, he served as an assistant at the University of Memphis and as a player development coach for the Los Angeles D-Fenders in the NBA Development League in 2013-14 before joining Golden State.
In 564 career games, Walton averaged 4.7 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists for the Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers.
He played on the Lakers’ league championship teams in 2009 and 2010.
The Warriors gave Walton permission to talk with the Lakers. Golden State will play either the Portland Trail Blazers or the Los Angeles Clippers in the next round of the playoffs.