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D-Fenders bring in Luke Walton as player development coach

The D-Fenders have hired former Lakers forward Luke Walton as a player development coach.

"We are very excited to add Luke to our staff," said President/CEO Joey Buss in a Monday statement. "His championship experience will help build upon the winning culture that has been established with the D-Fenders. His extensive and successful NBA career will allow him to instill the work ethic it requires for our players to reach the NBA."

Walton won two titles with the Lakers, making four trips to the NBA Finals including the last run with Shaquille O'Neal in 2004.

"“Luke has been a consummate professional throughout his career," said D-Fenders General Manager Nick Mazzella.  "Having played on two Lakers championship teams, Luke is aware of the hard work and type of culture required to win. He will be a valuable mentor to our players and will dedicate himself to improving their basketball skills and advancing their careers. We couldn’t be happier to have him join our talented coaching staff."

The Lakers drafted Walton in 2003 with the 32nd overall pick.  He was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in March of 2012.

"I’m thrilled to be returning to the Lakers family," said Walton. "I’m looking forward to working with the staff to develop young talent that can benefit the D-Fenders and the NBA. The D-Fenders have a proven record of developing top-flight players, and I plan to continue that tradition."

Last week the D-Fenders set their training camp roster, with a familiar name -- former Laker, and a teammate of Walton, Kareem Rush.

Rush (20th overall pick) was acquired on draft day in 2002 from the Toronto Raptors.

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Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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