Luke Walton couldn’t get the Lakers to the playoffs this season, but the Kings are ready to hand him the keys to their franchise next season.
Things didn’t work out for Luke Walton with the Lakers, but he won’t be unemployed for long. The Kings are prepared to make him their next head coach just days after their in-state rivals let him go.
Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Kings GM Vlade Divac and Walton are set to meet this weekend to finalize an agreement. The ESPN reporter claims that both sides have “confidence” that a deal can be hashed out relatively quickly.
Walton was axed by the Lakers primarily because he failed to make the playoffs this season despite the addition of LeBron James in free agency. Interestingly, the Kings will hire Walton to end their postseason drought. Sacramento hasn’t made the playoffs since 2006.
There is reason to be optimistic about the Kings future though. Dave Joerger was fired despite piloting his young squad to a ninth place finish in the Western Conference. Sacramento did end their campaign nine games behind the Clippers for the No. 8 spot, but their season still went considerably better than most experts predicted in the preseason.
The Kings will hope that Walton can connect better with their young corps of talent than Joerger ever did. The team wants to build around the likes of De’Aaron Fox, Marvin Bagley and Buddy Hield. Walton’s work with young players in LA like Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball prior to LeBron’s arrival is of great interest to Divac and his front office.
The Lakers publicly wished Walton well in his future endeavors, but they didn’t want to see him land on his feet so close to home. There’s a significant chance that the Kings and Lakers will be battling for a playoff spot next season. If LA doesn’t win that battle, they may regret letting Walton go.