HoopsHype Luke Walton rumors

November 30, 2011 Updates

It remains unclear how the Lakers' roster will look now up through their season opener Christmas Day against the Chicago Bulls. The Lakers have plenty of unsigned players, including Shannon Brown, Devin Ebanks, Derrick Caracter, Joe Smith and Theo Ratliff. They can exercise the so-called amnesty clause by shedding ties with Metta World Peace (three years, $21.5 million) or Luke Walton (two years, $11.46 million). Free agency beginning on Dec. 9 will also contribute to the frantic environment leading to opening day. Still, Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak told The Times' Mike Bresnahan that both rookies Darius Morris and Goudelock "probably deserve a chance to be looked at, and [they] have promise." Los Angeles Times

November 27, 2011 Updates

Coach Josh Pastner said Saturday that assistant Luke Walton, the Los Angeles Lakers forward whom Pastner hired as a third assistant coach last August, will remain on staff at least through Memphis' Dec. 6 game at Miami (Fla.). Once a new collective bargaining agreement is signed, NBA training camps are expected to open Dec. 9, meaning Memphis (2-2) would have Walton through its next three games. Memphis Commercial Appeal

October 31, 2011 Updates

Despite some undeniable exasperation within the organization after the former Ron Artest's erratic play in 2010-11 -- followed up by his all-too-real name change to Metta World Peace -- sources say L.A. is targeting Walton (owed $11.5 million this season and next season) as its amnesty player. ESPN.com

Luke Walton looked like he was enjoying himself. The University of Memphis assistant coach's eyes were glued on Tigers sophomore forward Tarik Black, who was working on post moves along with Memphis' other frontcourt players in a recent practice at the Finch Center. After picking up a quick tip from Walton, Black had executed the move perfectly. Walton nodded and clapped his hands in approval. "TB, I promise you you're going to score a lot of points with that move right there," Walton said. "Now we're making moves with poise and under control. Weave through the defense like that and you're going to be at the foul line all night long." Memphis Commercial Appeal

Though he's disappointed the lockout has gone on this long, Walton, who plans to return to the NBA as soon as the lockout is over, said he's looking forward to the challenge of trying to help Memphis from the coaching bench, starting with Wednesday's exhibition opener against LeMoyne-Owen at FedExForum. "I've loved it," Walton said Sunday. "It's been better than I even imagined it would be. It's been a lot of fun working with these young men and with the city, and how into Memphis basketball they are. Everyone's been great as far as the fans and everything, and then really Coach P letting me do everything that a coach would do as far as recruiting, coaching in practice and being in charge of the bigs. He hasn't really stopped me from doing anything. He's let me go free rein and do whatever I feel is best, so it's been a great experience so far. Memphis Commercial Appeal

October 13, 2011 Updates
October 10, 2011 Updates
September 26, 2011 Updates

How long does Walton think he's going to be at Memphis? "If I had to guess right now, at least until the end of December and even into January. But I'm also hearing that the season might not happen at all this year," said Walton, who added that he talks frequently to NBA players association rep and Laker teammate Derek Fisher. "It's crazy to think about it. But the deeper we get into this -- into November and actual games are missed and both sides are missing paychecks -- that's when the negotiations will really heat up. It will come down to who is willing to give in. After listening for six hours [during a recent players rep meeting], neither side wants to fold. I think the pressure will pick up in November and we'll have a clearer idea if and when the season will start." ESPN.com

For now, Walton said his mindset is in Memphis, where he has moved for the time being. "But I'm aware that if the lockout ends, I'm going back to L.A. and rooting for the Tigers," Walton said. Until that happens, Walton is banking on coaching Tiger headliners Black, Joe Jackson and Will Barton in a season in which the Tigers are the unquestioned Conference USA favorite and will likely start the season in the top 15 nationally. And Walton knows he could be in Memphis to see the whole season through. "There is a really good chance that does happen," he said. "Obviously as a player I want to play basketball. But I'm in a situation that I enjoy in Memphis and I feel we can have an extremely successful season. I see this team making a Final Four run. And that would be so much fun to be a part of. This is a good situation. I'm not sitting around thinking about the lockout." ESPN.com

August 26, 2011 Updates

Does it bother you that your name comes up in the lockout argument against players that are making too much money? Luke Walton: “It obviously bothers me. I haven’t really noticed it because I kind of stay out of the media during the offseason. But obviously it bothers you as a player. You want to feel your worth. Obviously I’m getting paid a salary that was for a much larger role back when we agree upon the deal. I was a playmaker, I was playing 30 minutes a game and I was able to do a lot of things for a team. And I had offers from other teams to do the same thing. … For the most part, fans have been great out here. Then, all of the sudden you bring in Pau Gasol and other players of that caliber and my role kind of gets smaller and smaller. I can still play the game … then all of the sudden my back goes bad on me and mentally I’m frustrated. … The role that I was paid that money to do kind of got taken away in a sense.” Sports Radio Interviews

Luke Walton joined Fox Sports Radio with Petros and Money to discuss his new gig at Memphis, if he thinks he’ll enjoy coaching, what his role will be, where Phil Jackson is right now, what is going on with the lockout and if it bothers him that he’s a name that comes up in talks about how contracts and money are out of control. On how the whole Memphis situation came about: “My good friend, Coach Pastner, Josh, called me up and asked if I had any interest in coaching and I said I would love an opportunity at it. So we worked out some details.” Sports Radio Interviews

Do you think this was a hasty decision that you might later regret?: “It could be. That’s part of the reason I took it, just to kind of get a feel for it. Obviously I made some phone calls to some people before I said yes to get there advice on it. Most everyone, including my old coach, Phil Jackson, thought it was a great opportunity for me and something I should do just for that reason, to find out maybe I hate sitting in gyms blowing whistles for three hours a day when I could be down in Manhattan Beach. But maybe I’ll love it.” What’s your role?: “I’m in charge of all the big men. I’ve got the big men under my watch. Damon Stoudamire has the guards and Jack Murphy has the wing players.” Sports Radio Interviews

Days before Love made his debut with pro beach volleyball player Hans Stolfus on Thursday at the Manhattan Beach Open, Walton predicted to The Times' Melissa Rohlin that Love was "going to struggle." They had played together with Jordan Farmar and Richard Jefferson recently on the NBA-themed beach volleyball team at a popular six-on-six amateur tournament in Manhattan Beach. But Walton argued that would hardly translate into competing against pro volleyball players. "No disrespect to Kevin; he's a great athlete," Walton stressed. "But those guys play at a high level. Kevin doesn't play much. He can play a little bit, but at that level, he's going to struggle a little bit." When asked whether Love was the Charles Barkley of beach volleyball, Walton responded, "You can say that. He only played a couple of points on our team. He looks like he can play a little bit, but it's the difference between someone who plays basketball at the rec center and someone who plays in the NBA. He's trying to play professional volleyball against guys that do it for a living." Los Angeles Times

"They're not going to win any games at Memphis with him coaching the team," Love said in a joking manner. "It was a terrible hire and bad investment in Luke. I'm sure they'll realize when the lockout is still looming, that they're going to want that thing to end so he's out of there when the time comes." Los Angeles Times

August 24, 2011 Updates

He’s certainly no NBA labor expert, but University of Memphis coach Josh Pastner does have a deeply vested interest in the length of the NBA lockout after hiring Lakers forward Luke Walton to be a full-time Memphis assistant for as long as it lasts. Pastner calls it a “calculated risk” to bring Walton into his team’s inner circle when Walton conceivably could bolt very soon if the NBA season starts on time. “I think at least — minimum — we’re going to have him through December,” Pastner said in predicting the duration of the NBA work stoppage. Orange County Register

Even though he's just 31 – the same age as Pau Gasol – Walton is being proactive in pursuing his post-playing life. Walton will start a new full-time job Saturday as an assistant coach at the University of Memphis for as long as the NBA lockout lasts. "Unfortunately, for every player there comes the end of his career," Walton said, "and it's just something I've been thinking about." Orange County Register

August 23, 2011 Updates

Mike Bresnahan: Strange days indeed. Because of the lockout, Luke Walton couldn't even tell Kupchak or Mike Brown of his new coaching job at U. of Memphis. Walton: "I guess they'll have to find out about it in the newspaper. But I'll be on that first flight to L.A. as soon as the lockout ends." Twitter

August 22, 2011 Updates

Tiger coach Josh Pastner announced Monday that Luke Walton, a member of the 2009 and 2010 NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers (and Bill's son), has been recommended to join the Memphis men's basketball coaching staff. Walton’s hiring is pending approval by the U of M and Tennessee State Board of Regents. In a release, Pastner said, “Luke is going to bring great excitement and great energy to the Tigers program, and we’re thrilled to have him. Luke is someone who has not only played for but also learned from arguably one of the greatest coaches in basketball history in Phil Jackson. Luke’s also played with and against the best-of-the-best at the highest level of basketball in the NBA, including being a teammate of one of the NBA’s all-time greats in Kobe Bryant. Memphis Flyer

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