Ever since Luke Walton was hired to replace Bryon Scott as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, speculation has run rampant about who Walton would add to his staff. The former Lakers forward has no coaching experience aside from a stint as interim head man for the Golden State Warriors, where he is still serving as Steve Kerr’s lead assistant until the end of the Dubs’ playoff run. Walton, however, has reportedly had a clear first choice to become his own right-hand man in Los Angeles, and is about to officially bring him on board according to the Los Angeles Times:
Brian Shaw and the Lakers are nearing a deal for him to become Luke Walton’s lead assistant coach, according to several sources.
— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) May 21, 2016
Shaw should be a familiar name to Lakers fans, as he was an assistant to Phil Jackson during many of the Zen Master’s later seasons in Los Angeles — including the 2009 and 2010 championship runs — after finishing his playing career in purple and gold. His return to the role comes as no surprise, as several reports in recent weeks have stated that Walton was very interested in bringing Shaw on after forming a bond with him as a coach during his own playing days.
After the retirement of Jackson in 2011, Shaw was considered Jackson’s top protege and hand-picked successor but was passed over in favor of Mike Brown. He later became an assistant on the Indiana Pacers staff, where his reputation continued to go and he was eventually promoted to associate head coach. Shaw was then hired as coach of the Denver Nuggets in 2013, but was fired after less than two seasons in which he posted a 56-85 record and struggled to connect with the young Nuggets core. The Bay Area native reportedly preferred to take Walton’s old job as Kerr’s top assistant over joining him in Los Angeles, but the Warriors seem to have other candidates in mind for the job.
Walton has mostly stayed focused on his current duties, but reportedly sought to hire an assistant coach so he could have a trusted proxy at the Lakers’ pre-draft workouts, many of which he will miss while with Golden State. Since the Lakers own the second overall pick in the NBA draft for the second straight year, it’s easy to see why Walton would prefer having that setup.
Although a guy who once rapped a scouting report to his team might seem like an odd fit for the youthful Lakers, he was clearly Luke’s top choice from the start and is very familiar with the Lakers franchise.