Former Los Angeles Lakers forward Luke Walton is heading home after being named head coach of the NBA franchise.
The Lakers confirmed the appointment on Friday, with the 36-year-old Walton signing a multi-year contract after Bryon Scott was sacked last week.
Walton, who played for the Lakers between 2003 and 2012, will be tasked with rebuilding the Kobe Bryant-less Lakers. His duties as Golden State Warriors assistant will conclude at the end of the NBA play-offs.
Walton spent nine seasons as a forward for the Lakers, winning two championship rings as a smart, steady contributor. Three years after his retirement as a player, the 36-year-old Southern California native is back to become the 26th head coach in franchise history.
The Lakers have missed the play-offs for three consecutive seasons, having ended the 2015-16 campaign with a 17-65 record as Bryant farewelled the game.
"We’re excited to bring Luke back to Los Angeles, where we feel he’s going to start an outstanding coaching career," said Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak."He’s one of the brightest young coaching minds in the game and we feel fortunate that he’ll be leading the on-court future of our team."
Walton returns to Los Angeles with experience as head coach.
In the absence of Warriors boss Steve Kerr, Walton guided the NBA champions to a 39-4 record, including a 24-0 start - the best start in the league’s history.
“I’m incredibly happy for Luke,” Kerr said. “As we witnessed earlier this season, he has all of the intangibles necessary to be an outstanding head coach in this league, including a terrific understanding of the game and the ability to communicate with a wide range of people. He’s certainly ready for this opportunity and I’m confident he’ll do a great job with the Lakers once our season is complete.”