As each day passes in the search for the next head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, more and more buzz continues to build.
With general manager Mitch Kupchak and part-owner/vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss reaching out to potential coaching candidates, they have just been allowed to interview the fan-favorite for the position.
Kupchak called Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr and was granted permission to interview his assistant and former Laker, Luke Walton. The Lakers and Walton will be allowed to discuss the job opening as soon as the Warriors finish their series with the Houston Rockets, which could come tonight at Oracle Arena.
Walton and Kerr both have a connection beyond their time as coaches of the Warriors. They each went to the University of Arizona, and they remain close with the iconic Lute Olson, who coached the men’s basketball program from 1983 to 2008, reaching the Final Four five times and winning the national championship in 1997.
Olson was interviewed by USA Today Sports’ Sam Amick, and he wants to see Walton back in Los Angeles next season as their next coach.
“I’d love to see him with the Lakers,” Olson, the 81-year-old who lives in Tucson, Ariz. with his wife, Kelly, told USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday. “He has a home in Manhattan Beach still, or a condo or whatever. Just having him close by would be really nice. It would give us a reason to go into LA other than shopping.”
Olson raved about the job that Walton did in Kerr’s absence this season, as the Warriors used a 24-0 start to go 39-4 before their head coach returned from offseason back surgery. Olson was impressed with Walton’s sideline demeanor this season and the respect that the Warriors players had for him.
There are certainly some question marks surrounding the Lakers front office. Jim Buss’ self-proposed deadline comes next summer, and if the team is not contending for the Western Conference crown, he vowed to step aside from his current role. So why would Walton want to join his former team? Olson thinks it is pretty simple.
“I think when I look at the Lakers, they have a lot of good, young players. Kobe (Bryant) is gone now, but they’ve got good young players to build that franchise with, a lot of money to spend (in free agency) …. I’d love to see him there.”
Olson shares the same sentiment as many Lakers fans. Walton is the guy that the majority of the fan base wants. Kupchak has received permission to interview him, so they are taking steps forward in the process of filling the vacant coaching position.
Walton’s college coach wants him to return to Los Angeles. Does Luke feel the same way? Only time will tell, but you can feel the excitement building once again in Laker land.
*For the full interview from Sam Amick, click here.