Luke Walton will stay on familiar ground by leaving California for Ohio. In Cleveland, he will find the franchise where he ended his playing career in 2013 alongside Kyrie Irving, and there he will be the assistant of a longtime friend: JB Bickerstaff.
“That’s one of the main reasons I took this job, to have this relationship and being able to coach with someone I really respect and enjoy spending time with. When I was playing in the NBA, JB used to come to San Diego to train me and several of my teammates during the offseason. He would come for two weeks every summer, we would go to the local gym in San Diego, and he would make us work out. We have remained very good friends ever since. I am happy to have the opportunity to work with him. »
Accompany the evolution of a young group
Cut off by the Kings, Bill Walton’s son took advantage of his suddenly lightened schedule to visit JB Bickerstaff during the season.
“When I first came here, I was just coming to watch JB coach. I coached against him, and as a player, I trained with him. But like everything, we always try to keep learning. As I was not working, I called him and he said to me: “Come, come to all the practices, to all the video sessions, whatever you want, come”. So I was only there to learn. We didn’t talk about working together at all while I was here. And he does an amazing job. I was really impressed with the way he leads his team.”he added.
The season ended after a play-in elimination, the two observed encounters, and it was from there that the two considered joining forces.
“During the playoffs, we discussed what we saw, the game… And at one point, the question of whether I would be interested in coming to train with him came up. We discussed it several times afterwards, the objectives and visions of each. I also have a family to whom I had to speak about it. When the family followed me, and imagined what I could do to be useful, the decision was easy to make”.
Precisely, how will Luke Walton help JB Bickerstaff and this young team to climb the hierarchy of the Eastern Conference?
“Anywhere, really! The staff have done a very good job developing this young hard core. And then there were guys like Ricky (Rubio) and Kevin (Love), who were the veterans that made it all better. I would say their identity lies in defence. We are looking for ways to improve this defense. And where we can make the biggest leap forward is offensively. So we are thinking about ways to continue to improve. When you have young teams, a young core like the one we have here, you have to spend a lot of time together and show understanding to take the next step. We are not looking to change anything. It’s about continuing to grow and mastering the actions we’re going to take. I’m just there to help him when he needs it.”
One more experience
Even if the position is less prestigious since he will go from main coach to assistant, and he comes out of two complicated experiences in Los Angeles and Sacramento, Luke Walton claims to be a better technician, who has been enriched by his experiences. past.
“You always learn, as a player, as a coach, as a journalist, you keep an open mind and you learn from your experiences. And for me, it’s been the journey of a lifetime since I started playing basketball, playing for different coaches: Lute Olson, a Hall of Famer as a college coach, who taught me the importance of fundamentals; I was Steve Kerr’s assistant and I played for Phil Jackson. Your mind is constantly evolving, your perspective on how best to reach players and how the game should be played too. All that has changed a lot in my life.”