Luke Walton officially hired as Kings' new coach on four-year contract

James Ham
NBC Sports BayArea

Luke Walton officially hired as Kings' new coach on four-year contract originally appeared on nbcsportsbayarea.com

The last time Kings general manager Vlade Divac conducted a coaching search, it spanned weeks, with more than 10 candidates drawing interviews.

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With a new contract extension in hand and complete control of the Kings' franchise, Divac is taking a different approach this time.

Luke Walton officially became the Kings' new coach Monday, the team announced, just four days after Dave Joerger was fired. Walton will be introduced at a press conference later Monday.

"I have known Luke for many years, and I am so excited to welcome him and his family to the Sacramento Kings," Kings general manager Vlade Divac said in a team-issued statement. "I look forward to his leadership on the court as we work to build a winning culture for many years to come." 

Walton and the Kings agreed to a four-year contract Saturday, only one day after he mutually parted ways with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Sam Amick of The Athletic was the first to report the deal, and NBC Sports California confirmed the details with a league source.

The Kings would not reveal terms of Walton's deal, citing team policy.

The former player-turned-coach posted a 98-148 (.398) record during his three seasons in Los Angeles, but he dealt with myriad issues behind the scenes.

Before joining LA, the 39-year-old son of NBA legend Bill Walton worked under Steve Kerr as an assistant with the Golden State Warriors. He spent two seasons in Oakland, including a 43-game stint as an interim head coach while Kerr dealt with back issues.

Walton posted an incredible 39-4 record as a fill-in for Kerr, and even took home NBA Coach of the Month honors during his time.

Following Walton's departure from the Lakers, Kerr shared his thoughts on his former understudy.

"As this job, as a coach in the NBA, you are 100 percent dependent on your circumstances -- the strength of the organization, the momentum, the unity -- everything has to be in good order," Kerr said Friday at Warriors practice. "Because if it's not, as we've witnessed with the Lakers, then there's going to be casualties, and usually the coach is the first one.

"They are losing one of the best human beings in the NBA, they're losing a guy who knows the game as well as anybody I've ever met, they're losing somebody players believe in and players want to play for," Kerr added.

The Kings have a strong young core. They posted a 39-43 record under Joerger this season, but they chose to go in a different direction after missing the playoffs for a 13th consecutive season.

During his Thursday press conference announcing Joerger's firing, Divac was clear that he wanted a coach who would continue to run the up-tempo style Sacramento became known for this season. 

[RELATED: Divac fires Joerger, takes full ownership of Kings' future]

"Our new coach, which I'm looking for, has to bring, first of all, that style we had last year -- that's Kings style," Divac said. "We have to play that way. Uptempo and moving the ball and communication and defined roles and, obviously, believing in the team."

The Lakers finished fourth in the NBA in pace, just ahead of the Kings. They were second in pace last season before LeBron James joined the franchise via free agency.

Walton is the 18th coach for the Kings since the franchise relocated to Sacramento prior to the 1985-86 season. He is the 10th coach since Rick Adelman left the post after eight years at the helm following the 2005-06 season.

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