Lakers reserve forward Luke Walton is planning to stay busy during the NBA… (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles…)
Luke Walton is already looking past his playing career.
The Lakers forward has two more years and $11.5 million on his contract, but he agreed Monday to become an assistant coach with the Memphis Tigers until the NBA lockout ends.
"Luke is going to bring great excitement and great energy to the Tigers program, and we're thrilled to have him," University of Memphis Coach Josh Pastner said. "Luke is someone who has not only played for, but also learned from, arguably one of the greatest coaches in basketball history in Phil Jackson. Luke's also played with and against the best of the best at the highest level of basketball in the NBA...."
Walton's side job begins immediately. He leaves Thursday for Memphis. When reached by phone Monday night, he was already reviewing video of Memphis games from last season.
Walton said he took the job "to get a feel for what it's like to coach."
"I feel like I can teach the kids what I've learned as far as what it takes to get to the NBA. I know where they've been and I know where they're trying to get."
Walton was put in a few tight spots because of the lockout. Players are not allowed to use the training facility of their respective teams, but Walton can use the Tigers' facilities.
Additionally, players are not allowed to talk to team personnel, so Walton couldn't inform General Manager Mitch Kupchak or Coach Mike Brown of his plans to coach at Memphis.
"I guess they'll have to find out about it in the newspaper," Walton said. "But they should know that my loyalties are with the Lakers and I'll be on that first flight back to L.A. as soon as the lockout ends."
Walton did, however, consult with Jackson, who advised him to take the Memphis job.
The hiring is pending approval by the university and the Tennessee Board of Regents. Former NBA player Damon Stoudamire also has been added to Pastner's coaching staff.
Walton, 31, has played sparingly for the Lakers the last two years because of recurring back problems and a logjam at small forward. He averaged 1.7 points and nine minutes in 54 games last season.
He has played eight seasons for the Lakers and won two championships.