Luke Walton will become coach of the Sacramento Kings, securing an NBA head coaching job just a day after parting ways with the Los Angeles Lakers following three losing seasons.
The 39-year-old former Warriors assistant coach was dismissed by the Lakers on Friday after Los Angeles went 37-45. His move to the Kings was confirmed to the Associated Press on Saturday by a person who spoke on condition of anonymity because it hadn’t been finalized. A formal announcement from the Kings is expected in the next couple of days.
The Sacramento Bee reported that Walton was contacted by the Kings in the first hour after he and the Lakers parted company.
Sacramento general manager Vlade Divac fired Dave Joerger on Thursday after the coach helped develop the young Kings into playoff contenders before ultimately falling short in the franchise’s 13th straight losing season.
Also Thursday, the Kings extended Divac’s contract through the 2022-23 season — and Walton’s deal is expected to run those same four years.
Sacramento features several talented young players acquired by Divac: guards De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield, forward Marvin Bagley III and center Willie Cauley-Stein. The Kings finished 39-43, nine games out of a playoff spot after being tied for the Western Conference’s eighth seed heading into the All-Star break.
Sacramento had its most wins since going 44-38 in 2005-06 during coach Rick Adelman’s final season.
Walton, a former Lakers forward, went 98-148 after getting his first permanent head coaching job with the 16-time NBA champions.
Many considered Walton the unofficial Coach of the Year for his guidance of the Warriors at the start of the 2015-16 season in place of an ailing Steve Kerr. Golden State began with a 24-0 record and Walton was 39-4 overall before Kerr returned to the bench following complications from two back surgeries.
Janie McCauley is an Associated Press writer.
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