Archive for the 'Luke Walton' Category

Trade Deadline Day Wrap Up

A flurry of activity on trade deadline day in the NBA brought a new look to the Lakers heading into the final 23 games of the season, with the acquisition of point guard Ramon Sessions from Cleveland and departure of Derek Fisher to Houston headlining two moves directed by general manager Mitch Kupchak.

Joining Sessions from the Cavs is forward Christian Eyenga, in exchange for Luke Walton, Jason Kapono, a protected 2012 first round draft pick and other considerations. To get Fisher and the 2012 first pick L.A. received from Dallas in the Lamar Odom trade, the Rockets sent big man Jordan Hill to Los Angeles.

Financial considerations were certainly kept in mind, as Kupchak explained, given the increasing luxury tax penalties negotiated into the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, but the GM was very pleased to keep the team’s three stars – Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum – in tact while still addressing a primary need.

Sessions and Hill will take physicals on Friday morning, and are expected to be available to Mike Brown should he choose to use either against the Timberwolves on Friday night.

Sessions excelled as the backup to the leading Rookie of the Year candidate Kyrie Irving, averaging 10.5 points and 5.2 assists in just 24.5 minutes per game this season. The Nevada product was even more productive in four starts, averaging 17.8 points and 11.0 assists, and has career averages of 14.8 points, 7.5 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 89 starts.

“We think Ramon (will) make a more immediate impact (than Eyenga or Hill),” said Kupchak. “Despite Derek’s presence, we felt we needed more speed and quickness in the backcourt. There’s nobody we’d trust with an open shot (more) than Derek Fisher, but we felt from a defensive point of view and giving us some speed and quickness (the move fit).”

The 6-3 guard spent his first three seasons in Milwaukee and Minnesota before being traded to the Cavs prior to the 2010-11 season. A second round pick, Sessions didn’t appear in a game for Milwaukee in the first five months of his rookie year, but immediately showed his value while averaging 11.5 points and 11.3 assists in April of 2008, including a 20-point, 24-assist effort against Chicago.

Sessions gives the Lakers something they did not have on the roster, much coveted by Kupchak and executive VP, player personnel Jim Buss: a slashing point guard adept at penetrating and creating offense either for himself or for teammates. Sessions has also improved his three-point shooting markedly this season, hitting 41.9 percent from behind the arc to bump his career average up to 29.3 percent.

Kupchak thinks that the moves put the Lakers in a better position to make a run at another championship despite losing Fisher’s leadership and experience.

“If we can get over the emotional toll, which I believe we will, we have the potential to be a better team,” he said.

Since Sessions is a bigger point guard, Kupchak acknowledged that he can also be used at the two-guard spot if Mike Brown would like, as both he and Steve Blake can defend most NBA shooting guards. It will be up to Brown to decide who starts, though it’s presumed that Blake will do so on Friday.

Hill, a 6-10 forward/center in his third year out of Arizona, was originally selected by New York with the eighth overall pick in 2009. Acquired by Houston as part of a three-team, nine-player trade midway through his rookie season, Hill has averaged 5.4 points and 4.2 boards in 151 career NBA games (18 starts) in 14.7 minutes. He averaged 18.3 points and 11.0 boards in three college seasons, and in games this year in which he’s played at least 15 minutes, he’s produced 7.9 points and 7.5 boards.

Eyenga was nabbed with the 30th pick by Cleveland in the 2009 Draft, and has played in six games this season with an average of 13.8 minutes per contest towards 1.5 points and 2.0 rebounds. The 6-7 forward played in 44 games as a rookie with the Cavaliers, averaging 6.9 points, 2.8 rebounds and 0.8 assists in 21.5 minutes.

While the Lakers are excited about what Sessions in particular might add, the organization expressed how much it will miss Fisher, the team’s emotional leader that came up huge so many times throughout his 13 seasons wearing Purple and Gold.

“I want to express my deepest gratitude to Derek for everything he has meant to this organization over the years,” said Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss. “Few who have worn the Lakers uniform have done so with as much class as Derek, both on the court and in the community. From his famous 0.4 shot in San Antonio to his clutch performances in the Finals against Orlando and Boston when it mattered most, Derek will always hold a special place not only in my heart, but in the heart of Lakers fans everywhere.”

Kupchak addressed the difficulty of trading Fisher, with whom he hopes to speak on Friday after an attempt on Thursday morning got Fisher’s voicemail, and also took care to thank Walton for his years of service to the Lakers, highlighted by his contributions to the back-to-back championships and consistently positive presence in the locker room.

Kupchak said it’s up to the remaining players and Brown to fill the leadership position Fisher so adeptly held. He added that giving up the two draft picks was less of a concern since such a player was unlikely to be better than Sessions.


The pick L.A. sent to Cleveland is lottery protected for the 2012 draft; in other words, if the Lakers miss the playoffs this season, they’d keep their pick in 2012, and Cleveland would get L.A.’s 2014 pick. Furthermore, the Lakers agreed to swap a lottery protected first round pick in 2013 with Cleveland for either the Cavs’ pick, Miami’s 2013 pick or Sacramento’s 2013 pick, all owned by the Cavs, at Cleveland’s discretion. In short, if L.A.’s pick is better (lower) than that of any of those three teams, the Cavs can swap with the Lakers.

The first rounder the Lakers sent to Houston came from Dallas in the preseason Lamar Odom trade, and is protected through 20 picks for six years.

Lakers Reunite with Odom

There’s no question that the Lakers miss what Lamar Odom, traded to Dallas in the preseason, brings to the basketball court. Any team would. But as some of Odom’s old teammates explained at Sunday’s practice, they may miss Odom’s presence off the court even more.

Luke Walton, one of Odom’s best friends, explained why.

“This was family to him,” he said. “He’s a very caring person when it comes to the people he’s close to and he was close to a lot of people here.”

Walton has tried to connect with Odom over the phone, but quipped that Odom “doesn’t answer his phone,” well known to his friends. Yet he was the guy that kept the Lakers’ locker room loose, the proverbial straw that stirred the drink.

Last January, Walton told us in a feature story about Odom why he valued the friendship so much:

A few years ago, Walton lost a close friend from college, leaving him “all messed up in the head,” he said. Walton didn’t tell anybody about it, and says he was simply out of it. Odom approached him wanting to talk, but Walton wasn’t ready and continued to hold it in. Insistent, Odom pulled Walton aside, and eventually got Walton to join him for a beer to discuss whatever Odom sensed was bothering his buddy.

“He told me different personal stuff about his life, and by the time we got done hashing it out, I felt way better,” said Walton. “Lamar left, and I was just like, ‘Wow.’ He didn’t have to do that. I hadn’t even told him there was anything wrong with me. He just perceived how I was acting.

“For someone to go through as much as he has in his life, to still be that guy who is always smiling, always making sure other people are happy, really shows what kind of person he is.”

The Lakers and Mavericks tip off at 7:30 p.m. at STAPLES Center.

Luke Walton: 2010-11 Exit Interview

Luke Walton appeared in 54 games for the Lakers, averaging 9.0 minutes in such contests for 1.7 points, 1.3 boards and 1.1 assists. He played only four total minutes in the postseason.

Below is a summary of his exit interview:

- On what was a tough season for him individually due mostly to being out of the rotation: “It was very hard. I worked extremely hard this summer to get my back to a level that I could compete and play and help this team, and obviously getting hurt in training camp didn’t help, but I still felt like once I was healthy again and coach knowing what I could do, I’d be able to contribute a lot more than he let me. But he told me that his game plan was to have the second unit play at a much faster speed than the first unit. I’m more of a let’s bring it up, run the offense and execute, and it kinda left me out of the rotation a little bit, which hurt a lot. But the team was winning, so as long as the team was winning, that’s all that really matters … So with the sudden loss in the playoffs, now it looks even a little worse.”

- On Phil Jackson going out the way he did: “That sucks. He’s a great coach, a great man. I’ve learned so much from him over my eight years as far as basketball, but then just growing as a person and a man and the way I live my life just from watching him and talking to him. Seeing all his kids at the game and knowing it was his last run is tough to not send a guy like that out on top.”

- More on talking with Jackson: “I talked with coach for a while, I felt like I had to get some stuff off my chest that had been bothering me, but all in a very respectful way. I told him he means the world to me.” The gist of Jackson’s response to Walton’s wish that he could have helped the team on the court is that Jackson wanted the second unit to be able to run, to get up and down the floor, not Walton’s skill set. That was very hard for Walton, but he wanted to get everything off his chest because of his respect level for Jackson, and for the sake of their relationship moving forward. Jackson told Walton that he was proud of him for working so hard to rehabilitate his back.

- On thinking assistant Brian Shaw should be the coach next season: “If we keep the triangle, I don’t see where we’d go other than Coach Shaw. No one else knows it but this staff. I think it kind of depends on that.”

Walton later described why he thinks Shaw would make a good head coach: “He’s hungry, he’s young, he knows this team. He’s going to be a head coach somewhere, I’m pretty sure of that, and I just think he has a unique ability to relate to players. He’s almost a new style coach, where he likes to mix it up with the players. He’s out there playing 1-on-1 and shooting with us and talking trash. It’s a different style, but it works. He knows how to challenge you, and loves the idea of a challenge. He uses that as a mental game to keep everything intense and sharp.” Walton shared that Jackson used to yell at Shaw as such: ‘You’re a coach. You’re not that friend.’ But, said Walton, “Brian has a unique way of being your friend, but at the same time challenging you all the time to improve and get better and win.”

- On being confident about the team coming back strong if it stays in tact for next season: “I know if you bring back this same team with the pain that we have right now that we haven’t felt in a few years, the hunger that we’re going to have to get back on top, we’re going to be a lot better next season than we were this season. There’s no reason to break us up. We’ve been to the Finals three years in a row before this year. Do we feel we should have been there? Absolutely. Did we underachieve this year? One-hundred percent. I think there’s no reason that whoever comes out of the West this year is going to be better than us next year with this same team. The first thing that came to me when I heard Magic (Johnson) talking about blowing up the team. They won in ’85, lost in the Western Conference in ’86, and then kicked butt again in ’87 and ’88 and won more titles. So, I don’t really see how it’s any different from that, other than we’ve been there three straight years right now. We had a bad year, we’re all upset about it, it’s a deep hole right now. Unfortunately it’s going to be a long summer of dealing with that, but I don’t see any reason why this team can’t come back next year and win another championship.”

- One health bit: Walton’s back really, really bothered him throughout 2009-10, but it felt much better throughout this past season, an item he feels good about.

- Walton broke down what may have gone wrong with the offense and defense in detail, as you can see: “As much as the defense we were trying this year was a lot of positives about it, I don’t think this team was ready for all that adjustment. I think we were just too inconsistent on the defensive end, teams were getting too many open shots. I think our execution of the triangle was not at the same level its been over the past few years, as far as picking teams apart. It was basic this year, a lot of simple aspects of the offense, not the second and third and counter options that make it so hard to guard especially in a playoffs series, when everyone else runs sets and we know what sets they’re running, where they’re going to go. With us, no matter what you do defensively, there’s always a counter to counter that. We never got into that too much this year. I think with just being a little more sharp offensively, and if we do keep the same defense, having that much more time starting it in training camp. It was a complex defense, and it took all five people (being) on the same page. I think just being more aware of that and offensively (paying) more attention to the details .. there’s no reason this team can’t win another championship if not two.”

- Another potential problem for L.A., according to Walton: Thinking that they were the best, that they’d win again, and not being quite as willing to really get in and sacrifice. It was easier to just give the ball to Kobe, Gasol and Bynum and let them score because “they’re the best out there and no one can stop them” instead of really running the offense the right way, which makes L.A. “nearly impossible to stop.” That frustrated him because that’s what he loves about basketball and the triangle, how “you can just pick other teams apart and make them look helpless out there,” which L.A. “didn’t do that down the stretch this year.” He also said it was simply difficult for L.A. to practice without a lot of bodies, with various players getting treatment or ice on their knees regularly. “We didn’t have the bodies to go as hard as we usually go.”

- Walton does not expect the offseason to be dull in the least, with potential player movement, a new coach, the potential circumstances with the league and so on. He has no idea what he’s going to do, as he never makes plans until July, always expecting to be in the Finals.

Walton Re-Strains Right Hamstring

Luke Walton aggravated the right hamstring strain he originally suffered at last Thursday’s practice, moving the classification from “mild” to “moderate.”

Walton will not play in the Lakers preseason games in London or Barcelona.

The backup forward will be re-evaluated when the team returns to Los Angeles on October 8, but team spokesman John Black said he would likely be out for a few weeks.

Barnes, Walton Strain Respective Hamstrings

Two Laker forwards coincidentally suffered hamstring strains during Thursday morning’s practice.

Matt Barnes strained his left hammy, and Luke Walton his right.

Both strains were classified as “minor” by team spokesman John Black, and both are listed as “day to day.”

Luke Walton Summer Update: Part 2

60108490Last week, we called up Luke Walton for a summer update in which he detailed his back rehabilitation, and made his selections for a Lakers volleyball starting six.

Below is the rest of our conversation, which includes Walton’s off-season update on some of his teammates, his diet, his relationship with Phil Jackson and details from his post-Finals vacation that took him through South Africa, France, Italy and Hawaii:

MT: What kind of contact have you had with your teammates throughout the offseason? Any updates?
Walton: We don’t keep in touch that much during the summer. I’ve seen Kobe at the gym the last couple weeks rehabbing his knee. He’s itching to get back on the court. He shows up every morning at seven at the team’s facility and is kind of wrapping up around the time I get there at around 9 a.m. Lamar, I’ve talked to a couple of times, watched a few of his games with Team USA. I know he’s looking forward to getting back to L.A. … he has had such a busy summer. I spent some time with Jordy (Jordan Farmar) before we sent him off to New Jersey a few days ago … I’m happy for Jordan. He wants the opportunity to run a team, and he’s going to hopefully get that opportunity at some point out in New Jersey. Obviously I’m going to miss him; he was a big part of our team and my best friend on the team the past few years. I’ve seen Shannon (Brown) at the gym a few times and I talked to Fish (Derek Fisher) a bunch right after he signed, but haven’t talked to him recently. Talked to a few other guys that won’t be with us next year like D.J (Mbenga), Josh (Powell) and (Adam) Morrison, to wish them luck and that type of thing. I met Steve Blake at the gym last week, he was in there doing some work. That’s about it.

MT: What are your thoughts on the addition of Blake to the team?
Walton: I think Blake is a great fit for this team and for the triangle offense. I’ve been playing against him since college and have always been a fan of how he plays, the intensity he plays with and his unselfish style.

MT: Didn’t you play against him once in college?
Walton: We beat his Maryland team in (2001-02). They were top five in the country, we had just lost Richard (Jefferson), Gilbert (Arenas) and Loren Woods. Whoever the geniuses are that do the preseason rankings took Arizona out of the Top 25 for the first time in years, and Maryland was No. 3, Florida was top five in the preseason N.I.T. We took them out on back-to-back nights, winning the tournament. Jason Gardner was scoring like 30 points a game, I was doing my thing, Ricky Anderson was playing great with young boys like Channing Frye and Salim Stoudemire. How do you keep that team out of the Top 25? It was the year after we lost to Duke in the championship game. They had actually lost to Duke in the Final Four the game before us.

58648831MT: Although Farmar’s no longer here, I know you also hang out a lot with Odom throughout the season. You mentioned watching some of his Team USA games, and it looks like he’s taken up a key leadership role with the Americans. What’s it like being teammates with him for six seasons now?
Walton: He’s as good a teammate as you can have. He wants to win, he does all the little things. He sacrifices his own personal achievements for the better of the team. He’s always making things fun and is simply a great person, player and teammate that’s a huge reason for our success. It’s just his every day attitude. He’s always in a good mood unless the team needs someone to yell at them, and then he has no problem being vocal and speaking his mind. If times are tough and things aren’t going well for you, he’ll come to your room and sit there and have serious, deep conversations with you. He can read people really well and he knows how to interact differently with different people. I hang out a lot with Lamar, and I’ve seen him do it with his friends and people around him as well. He just always makes things better when he’s around.

MT: We made a big deal out of Odom’s eating candy two seasons ago, but I noticed him eating a lot more fruit before games and on the plane in 2009-10. How has your diet changed since you entered the league?
Walton: You get older, you get wiser, you realize how important it is to not only train and keep your body going but how important it is to keep your body fueled. When you’re younger you just eat whatever is convenient. My diet has changed a lot since when I first got into the NBA. I love good food though, so I’m not just going to eat a salad and chicken every day. I’ll mix it up, but when I mix it up, I’ll make sure to get a side of fruit instead of a side of fries, little stuff like that. I make sure I’m getting the necessary food into my body so I can compete, but I don’t (go crazy with it).

60788553MT: OK, moving on, how important was getting Derek Fisher and Phil Jackson back?
Walton: It’s huge. Obviously you’ve seen the success we’ve had since Fish has been back. Having Phil go for his 4th three-peat is absolutely insane. Knowing that we have both of those guys back really puts us in a confident position, feeling that we should three-peat.

MT: You’ve developed a really good relationship with Phil Jackson over the years; he seems to be an advocate for your style of play especially within the triangle…
Walton: I love playing for Phil. Every year when we have our exit meetings we have good talks, and I always tell him that I’ve learned so much from him and I hope he’ll be back. I know he said this is going to be his last year, but I’m going to try to convince him after this year to come back again. He’s one of the greatest coaches in the history of all sports. Any chance I have to be able to learn from him and grow as a player and a person, I give him all the credit for that. He has that quality to really connect with people, treat everybody differently, motivate people in different ways. Playing for him for so many years now, I’ve adopted a lot of his philosophies, and they make both the game and life a lot easier. Instead of being on a roller coaster, you just take things for what they are and enjoy where you are at the time.

sardinia-3MT: Fair enough. Finally, did you have a good vacation right after the Finals?
Walton: I started my summer with a great vacation. We – myself and a bunch of my guy friends from all home, college, the NBA – went to the World Cup for about a week and checked out a few games. Just an unreal experience. We saw Portugal vs. Spain, and then the Netherlands vs. Slovakia. Then we flew up to France, and our girlfriends all met us out there. We had a big boat there and went to different ports in France and Italy. Then my girlfriend and I flew to Rome for a day, and then flew to Hawaii where my oldest brother got married. I finally came home and started with the serious back rehab after Hawaii. The coolest place we went to was Portofino (a small Italian fishing village). That and Sardinia (second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea) were my favorites. The highlight was obviously going to my brother’s wedding right on the beach in Maui. I made a little speech, as did my other two brothers. It was a really nice wedding.

MT: I’m guessing you had to find some time to monitor your back even while on vacation?
Walton: Every day I was on the road I’d dedicate an hour to doing stretches and back exercises, and keeping it as manageable as possible but knowing that once I got back I’d be full blown doing two to three different kinds of workouts trying to get it all good. It’s working out so far.

Luke Walton: Summer Update

60788834Lakers forward Luke Walton has devoted nearly his entire summer to rehabilitating and strengthening a bothersome back that limited him to 29 regular season games last season.

To find out about how that process is going, we chatted with Walton on the phone as he drove from L.A.’s practice facility down to visit family and friends in San Diego:

MT: So Luke, is it just a family trip back home for the weekend?
Luke Walton: Exactly, family time. I haven’t been down there all summer. It’s my first weekend down there, so I’ll have dinner with Pops, see my mom and some friends as well.

MT: What’s the latest with your father? How’s he feeling these days?
Walton: My dad is feeling great. He’s working a few different jobs in San Diego, and having a blast doing that. He also signed on to do 10-15 (Sacramento) Kings games just for fun because he’s friends with the (team owners) Maloof’s, but I don’t think he’s going to get back to the every day grind of broadcasting.

MT: Very good. In your exit interview back in June, you detailed how you’d planned on spending the majority of the summer getting your back ready for 2010-11. How’s it going?
Walton: It’s definitely been a summer completely focused on getting my back stronger and healthier, and hopefully allowing me to get back on the court more and play a bigger role trying to get this third championship. That’s really been the only point of emphasis.

MT: In that case, how are you feeling at this moment? Do you have confidence that you’ll be able to make it through the NBA season, or is it simply a process that you have to monitor constantly throughout the campaign?
Walton: My back feels great right now. It’s a lot stronger. I’m feeling confident in it and am excited to test it out. That being said, at the same time I’m a little nervous, just because I know how much of a grind the season and training camp can be. I dedicated the whole summer to making it strong enough to last, and that’s what I’m hoping for. If it doesn’t, I’m in a pretty bad spot. But I’ve put together a great team of people to work with, with our strength coach with the Lakers (Chip Schaefer), a back specialist for some exercises, a Pilates teacher and a yoga teacher. I’ve just been mixing and matching all of those people every single day for the past two months to get this as strong as I can.

60638862MT: I know that while you’ve been up here at the practice facility, you’ve run into Kobe doing some rehab as well?
Walton: Yes, I’ve seen Kobe at the gym the last couple weeks rehabbing his knee. He’s itching to get back on the court. He shows up every morning at 7 a.m. at the team’s facility and is kind of wrapping up around the time I get there at around 9 a.m. Kobe looks great – he says his knee feels great. He’s just about to start doing basketball workouts again and can’t wait for it.

MT: All right, I’m sure people will be happy to hear that. Let’s switch tone quickly to talk about another sport you’re pretty good at, volleyball. I was down at the Manhattan Beach 6-Man tournament last month, and kept trying to envision what an all-Lakers team would look like. How would you build your squad?
Walton: Well, the only guy on the team I’ve actually played with is Sasha (Vujacic).
Sasha is a pretty good volleyball player – both of his parents played back in (the former Yugoslavia). I haven’t played with Pau (Gasol), but I heard he’s really good too, so he’d obviously be on the team. We’re definitely throwing Bynum in there as the middle blocker, just have him put those hands straight down. I would have had Jordy (Jordan Farmar) in the back row if he were still here, but he’s in Jersey now.

MT: Sure. You have to put No. 24 in there, right?
Walton: Of course, you gotta have Kobe in there. And if for some reason he wasn’t good, which he would be, he’d just train every day for 6 months until he was the best one out there. It’d also be fun to watch Shannon Brown jump, to see if he could get as high in the sand as he does on the hardwood.

MT: OK, so you, Kobe, Brown, Vujacic, Bynum and Gasol. It’d be a bit tough looking up across the net at that stupid mix of athleticism and height, but there are some pretty ridiculous teams in that tourney, right?
Walton: Oh, we’d have no chance at all against the professionals, but we’d have a lot of fun trying. We could beat some teams, but the pros? That’s what they do for a living. It wouldn’t happen.

Editor’s Note: We’ll have more from our conversation with Luke Walton next week, including details of his vacation through South Africa, France, Italy and Hawaii, as well as updates he offered on the teammates that he’s kept in touch with throughout the offseason. Stay tuned.

2010 Exit Interviews: Luke Walton

lukeWhile winning the team championship of course made the 2010 campaign an ultimate success for every Lakers player, Luke Walton’s season was a difficult one from a personal standpoint as he was limited to only 27 regular season games and limited action in 16 playoff games due to his back injury.

Walton managed only 9.4 minutes in the regular season games in which he did appear, averaging 2.4 points and 1.4 assists, and is primarily focused upon getting his back right for the 2010-2011 campaign.

Here are the highlights of his exit interview:

- (On his back): “Relatively speaking it feels pretty good right now. Obviously it was a very frustrating year (personally) in a championship year. Obviously surgery would be the last option. There are a couple trainers and work out guys I’m going to really work with hard and a lot this year. I hope so. There’s now way to really know right now until I work with specialists and focus right on the area that’s hurt. I’m optimistic about it that I’ll be able to get it where it needs to be … It’s hard. This year was probably the toughest. I was in a dark place, I was struggling, I wasn’t a happy man.”

- (On his exit interview): “It was mainly about what I’m going to do this summer. I’ve played for Phil for a long time and we talked about how frustrating it was not to be out there. Phil told me he loves having me out there and facilitating the offense.”

- (On support from his Dad and teammates): “It was huge. When I wasn’t playing especially after the pain all came back the second time (after taking time off) I was (struggling). Having his support and the support from my teammates and my coaches was huge for me. It kind of got me out of a funk and (enabled) me to get going again.”

- Walton said that he has a back condition that’s actually pretty common among people, it’s just that most people don’t happen to be professional athletes who are constantly pushing their bodies to the limits of physicality.

- (On getting Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher back): “Mitch is going to have a busy summer, because there are a lot of free agents. It speaks for itself how important it is to have (Fisher) and (Jackson) back.” Walton said that it would be more than worth it to have Fisher around even if he didn’t play, adding that he contributed considerably on the floor as well particularly in the playoffs.

- (On Phil Jackson): “I told him as I left that I hope he’s back next year. I love playing for Phil.”

1-on-1 Video Chat: Luke Walton

We pulled up alongside Luke Walton after Monday’s practice to chat about his three-point shooting, when he decides to go to his favorite low post move (the turn-around, fade-away baseline jumper), Pau Gasol’s feel for the game, the play of L.A.’s bench and more:

Walton Plays 8 Minutes, Feels Good

60080903Lakers forward Luke Walton played in a game for the first time since Feb. 10, earning eight minutes to produce two assists and provide some defensive energy without attempting a shot.

Walton was on the floor to start the fourth quarter, helping the Lakers trim an 8-point Spurs lead down to three before checking out moments later.

“As a bench player you have to find a way to get active in the game besides that but it can be difficult and tough a lot of times just throw the ball down to Kobe (Bryant) and the ball down to Pau (Gasol) and they make plays,” he said. “You’ve still have to somehow to get in there.”

As for his back, which has limited him to just 25 of 77 games this season?

“It felt good,” he said. “The back felt good out there. My timing was a little off but that will come, that’s nothing. But it was fun to be back out there.”