We have our new coach, Luke Walton.
I don't think too many are sad to see Byron Scott leave. The team was historically awful under his charge. Was it all his fault? Probably not, but he was the head man and some culpability falls his way.
After Scott's departure GM Mitch Kupchak said there would be a long search populated by many names in order to find the right man for the job after several years of mediocre choices. And there were many good choices out there, including Spurs heir apparent Ettore Messina who was interviewed.
But they could have saved Messina the plane ride because it is very apparent that other candidates were a dog and pony show and the Lakers had only one guy on their list: Walton. This was proven out by his very quick hire.
The hire didn't surprise me. It was the popular, logical choice. Luke played for the Lakers and is a southern California boy. Hand in glove one might say.
A year ago Luke wasn't really on anyone's top five list for head coaching vacancies. But circumstances changed with Kerr's injury and Luke's elevation to interim coach in Kerr's absence.
Then something funny happened to change his and Lakers destiny. The kid coached the NBA champions to an amazing 39-4 record giving them impetus to the historic record best season of 73-9.
Suddenly Luke was a prime candidate for any vacant head coaching job. While Walton received kudos for the job he did by most pundits, some said anyone could have coached that team to a great record. What is the truth? Probably something in between. What he did was impressive but it also would have a taken a misfit of the highest order to mess that team up with the players they have and system that they know by rote.
It is from here on in that Luke will show what he has a coach, starting with a Lakers team that has some nice young pieces but is far behind the eight ball in the very rugged Western Conference.
Some fans may have wished for another coach besides Walton although i suspect the vast majority are pleased. I don't have a problem with it. I did not want some old retread going on his third or fourth or fifth head coaching job. This is a young team with miles to go and I wanted a younger, energetic coach to learn and grow with them. Walton fits that bill.
There was another path that could been followed by both Luke and Lakers. Fortunately that did not happen. There was talk the Lakers were debating whether to let Scott play out his full contract option. Walton also received advice from some, including his father Bill to remain at Golden State for another year or two.
I thought Bill's advice short sighted and specious. When you get a chance to take the big chair in any sport, you take it. There are precious few head coaching jobs in pro sports and if you refuse one, you never when, if ever, another will come along. Walton was wise to eschew this bad advice and make his move to the top.
If Luke had taken this advice and the Lakers had decided to keep Scott another year it would have delayed what needed to be done. It would have then devolved into a position of the Lakers, the groom, waiting another year or two for Luke, the preferred bride. If things had played out that way, Luke could have been our coach, just further down the road. Not an optimum situation for the team to be in for a lot of reasons including the development of your young players who we hope will be our next stars.
There is another important reason why it was better to get Luke now rather than a year or two later. I have no doubt Jeanie Buss is scheming for the day when she can bring her mummified lover, Phil Jackson, here to become GM or as a grey eminence with some other title to run the team.
In the race of who got here first, it was paramount Luke won and here is why: If Luke had delayed and Jackson got here ahead of him, with the title and powers he will have - not to mention his extortionist 12 million a year salary - he would have been in a position to tell Luke to run his beloved triangle offense - which takes seven years for veterans to learn and only wins rings when guys like Jordan, Rodman, Pipen, Shaq, Kobe and Gasol are there - if offered the head coaching job, just as he demands of it of his Knick head coaches.
With Luke beating the ossified Jackson and his ego here, the youngster now has a chance to install his own methods, his own system, his own philosophy, to carve his own imprimatur into this young team instead of trying to please antiquated, inflexible Jackson.
If Luke can get a couple of Jackson free years here, show he knows his stuff, build strong relationships with the players and starts to make palpable improvements with the team on the court and in the record, even if Phil drags his carcass across the country one last time to LA he will not be in a position to tell Luke what to do or what schemes to run.
And that can make all the difference in the world for Luke, the Lakers and us fans.
Walton has already said the triangle is not the offense he wants to run here. For me, that was great news.
I hope to never have to see Phil involved with this team again. He is the past in the NBA, just like Jordan, Kobe, Chuck Daly, Red Auerbach and others who have come, had their day and gone.
Unlike Pat Riley, he has not earned his spurs as a successful front office boss nor does he allow his coaches to do things their way. He demands his forever obsession with the triangle go on and on no matter what circumstance.
But if Jeanie and Phil do get their way, the effects can be mitigated if Walton has created an atmosphere here where even Phil can't touch him upon his dreaded arrival.
That would be the absolute best case scenario if we have to live with Phil yet again.