Luke Walton brings passion, 'same soul' as new coach of Vlade Divac's Kings


Luke Walton brings passion, 'same soul' as new coach of Vlade Divac's Kings

SACRAMENTO -- The changing of the guard came quickly.

Less than 48 hours after letting coach Dave Joerger go, the Sacramento Kings already have Luke Walton signed, sealed and delivered.

Walton, of course, had parted ways with the Los Angeles Lakers just 24 hours before agreeing to take the Kings job. Without any chance to catch his breath, the 39-year-old met with the media for his introductory press conference Monday afternoon at Golden 1 Center.

By every standard, that is an extremely quick turnaround. But when you find your guy, you find your guy. And Kings general manager Vlade Divac found his guy.

“Knowing Luke for a long time, it’s kind of the same soul about basketball,” Divac said. “We understand each other very well, and I’m excited that we’re going to build this team together and get to the next level.”

Divac and Walton originally crossed paths as teammates with the Lakers during the 2004-05 season. Divac was finishing his Hall of Fame career, and Walton was just entering his second season in the NBA.

Their previous acquaintance helped speed the transition from one franchise to the next. Rarely do you see a coach leave a job one day and jump into another the next day.

Walton is excited about his new career path. But he also knows that the business of coaching hoops is brutal and your livelihood is often at the whims of others.

“It’s why it’s important to be very passionate about this job because it’s a lot that comes with it,” Walton told NBA Sports California. “But in my opinion, it’s the best job in the world, working in the NBA. I’m thrilled to have another opportunity to do that.”

Walton’s path to the NBA is unique. He spent his childhood moving from one city to the next as the son of Hall of Famer Bill Walton. One of Luke's brothers was born in Portland, where the elder Walton played for the Trail Blazers.

Luke was born in San Diego after his father signed as a free agent with the Clippers in 1979. The family spent time in Boston as well, giving the Kings’ new coach a good taste of the NBA life at a young age.

After a successful college career playing at Arizona under legendary coach Lute Olson, Walton was selected with the second pick of the second round in the 2003 NBA Draft. He fought his way into the league, spending 10 years with the Lakers and Cavs as a role player, playing for another coaching legend in Phil Jackson.

Despite his NBA pedigree, Walton’s path wasn’t easy. He finished his career averaging 4.7 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists over 564 career regular-season games.

“I believe that the harder you work, the more success you have,” Walton said. “I can understand the struggles of players and what you have to go through. I think that helps allow me to be a patient coach because as a player, I had to be patient with my skills developing.”

Walton further developed his coaching style over two seasons under Steve Kerr as an assistant for the Warriors. In his second season with the team, he stepped in for 43 games as an interim head coach while Kerr struggled with back issues, posting an incredible 39-4 record over the stretch.

That experience helped Walton land the Lakers' head-coaching job, where he posted 98-148 record over the last three seasons.

With an extremely young roster in Sacramento, the Kings will rely on their new coach to help further the culture that has greatly improved over the last few seasons.

“No. 1, you’ve got to let them know that you care, that you’re willing to work for them,” Walton said. “To me, I look at coaching as a job of service. We are here to make things better.”

Known as a great communicator, Walton inherits a solid group of players that took major strides under Joerger this season both on and off the floor. The foundation is in place, and there is hope the team is on the cusp of becoming a playoff-caliber squad.

Both Divac and Walton punted when asked about predictions regarding records or playoffs for next season, but both expect improvement over the 39-43 record that the Kings posted this season.

[RELATED: Watch the full Luke Walton press conference]

Walton will bounce back and forth between his home in Southern California and Sacramento over the coming weeks, but the job already has started. De'Aaron Fox, Harrison Barnes, Harry Giles, Nemanja Bjelica and Marvin Bagley were all at the practice facility to greet their new coach, and he intends to build out his staff over the coming weeks.

Kings fan makes good on pledge, gets married in Harry Giles jersey


Kings fan makes good on pledge, gets married in Harry Giles jersey

Whenever Richard and Kate Ivanowski look at their wedding photos, they will think of Kings forward Harry Giles.

That's because Richard got married to Kate this weekend while wearing a Giles jersey under his suit jacket.

Why did Richard wear a Giles jersey during his wedding? This all came about in early June when he asked his then-fiancé if he could wear a Kings jersey during their wedding. She said yes, but only if he got 10,000 retweets on Twitter.

It took about one day for Richard to hit the 10,000 retweet mark.

So, this weekend, Richard and Kate got hitched, with a Giles jersey visible in their photos.

Giles himself was pretty pumped about it.

[RELATED: How Giles helped Ivanowski's plan wedding]

So a few decades from now, when Richard and Kate are showing their wedding photos to their grandkids, they'll have to explain who Giles is and why his jersey was a part of their wedding.

That will be a unique story to tell.

Source: Kings unlikely to pursue free agent center Nikola Vucevic

Source: Kings unlikely to pursue free agent center Nikola Vucevic

SACRAMENTO -- The rumor mill is only going to heat up as we approach the start of the NBA’s free agency period on June 30. With $35-38 million to spend, the Sacramento Kings are going to get mentioned plenty, and often the reports will be inaccurate.

Vlade Divac and his team have placed an emphasis on improving the center position, but according to a league source, while the team holds Nikola Vucevic in high regard, the team is not expected to chase the Orlando Magic big man in free agency, despite reports to the contrary.

After posting 20.8 points, 12.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.1 blocks per game this season, Vucevic is primed to sign a mega contract, whether it’s with the Orlando or elsewhere.

The 28-year-old is skilled and made his first All-Star team this season, but he’s not a great fit for the Kings’ uptempo style of play.

There are plenty of other centers on the market this summer. Dewayne Dedmon and DeAndre Jordan are both unrestricted free agents and might work as short-term fixes. Jordan is on the wrong side of 30 and Dedmon isn’t far behind, but both are solid rebounders and defenders.

Memphis Grizzlies big man Jonas Valanciunas just opted out of his contract for this season and is an unrestricted free agent. At 27-year-old he fits the age arc of the Kings’ roster, but again, isn’t exactly built for an uptempo style.

The team hasn’t shut the door on a return of the incumbent starter, Willie Cauley-Stein. He is long and athletic, but his inconsistent play continues to concern the Kings.

[RELATED: How Lakers' Davis trade impacts Kings]

Sacramento is likely to extend the 25-year-old a qualifying offer before the beginning of free agency, locking him into restricted free agent status. They will wait to see how the market materializes for the former No. 6 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft before making a final decision on his future with the team.