While some NBA players are spending the lockout talking about playing overseas, Luke Walton has found a much different avenue for escape. Walton has joined coach Josh Pastner’s staff at Memphis and will coach the big men at the collegiate level.
Walton says Pastner just called him up and it all worked out. It seems like a pretty great gig for a player who is sort of the subject of this NBA lockout. The Los Angeles Lakers signed Walton to a pretty healthy deal five years ago, signing a six-year $30 million deal.
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.”
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.”
How about that staff?:
“Damon and I might have to play some two-on-two just in case the kids get out of line.”
What is Phil Jackson doing right now?:
“He was in Montana when I talked to him. He had just gotten back from the Hall of Fame. … He still has his cell phone number, so we didn’t have to go smoke signal or any of that stuff.”
What is happening with the lockout?:
“For coaching, as much fun as it would be in a March Madness … would be pretty insane. But there’s just no way to tell right now. We’re so far apart that it definitely doesn’t look like it’s going to happen to where we start anywhere on time. Hopefully once some preseason games get missed and some regular season games that both sides will be a lot more willing to actually get stuff done … and figure things out.”
Does it bother you that your name comes up in the lockout argument against players that are making too much money?:
“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.”