Luke Walton was officially introduced as the Lakers new head coach on Tuesday.
Walton, 36, played nine seasons with the Lakers and won two championships with the franchise.
He offered his thoughts about turning around the Lakers, the culture he wants to instill and what he learned in the last two seasons as an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors.
“I am absolutely thrilled to be able to come back down here and have my dream job, which is to coach the L.A. Lakers — a team I played for, a team I won championships with, a team that drafted me,” Walton said.
“We have extremely talented young players … we have a ton of money to spend in free agency. We have draft picks this year and the fact that Mitch [Kupchak] and the Buss family trusted me … in being part of this rebuilding, post-Kobe era, just means the world to me.”
On how he’ll use the Warriors’ Game 7 loss Sunday as motivation:
“I don’t think you ever get over that disappointment. Still haven’t gotten over the disappointment [with the Lakers] losing to Detroit [in the 2004 NBA Finals] my rookie year, to losing to the Celtics when they were pouring Gatorade with five minutes left in the game when they were up 30 in Boston [in the 2008 Finals].
“You don’t get over those things, but it motivates you. And they do make you appreciate, you know, winning championships.… I look forward to trying to get back to the other side of that down here.”
What he thinks about the roster he’s inherited with the Lakers:
“We have young, talented players. We have draft picks. We have $60-to-$70 million [to spend] in free agency. We have one of the greatest fan bases of all-time. It’s an organization that free agents want to play for, as far as being a young coach and being able to help rebuild an organization and a team that I love and that I grew up with, it’s all exciting to me.”
On what has to change with the Lakers, following two dreadful seasons when the team won a combined 38 games:
“What I can affect is what’s going to happen next year and the year after that ... we’re going to put a stamp on the culture that we want, and it’s going to be joy.
“Our players are going to like coming into practice every day. We’re going to play a brand of basketball that the L.A. fans will appreciate. We’re going to compete.”
On getting a late start after the Warriors’ deep playoff run:
“It’s been hard because obviously I want to be down there doing all that stuff, but I couldn’t. So if I had a day off or I was done with my responsibility for the Warriors that day I would call Mitch and we would talk.…
“They’ve been sending me emails of [draft] workouts that they’ve had here and things like that. But in all honesty, I haven’t had enough time.… But the people that have, you know Mitch, the Buss family, all the other people involved in these decisions, they’ve been here busting their tail every day looking at this stuff. So I’m very confident they’ll be able to fill me in very quickly.”