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Luke Walton's return to practice should help newcomers' grasp of triangle offense

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Heading into his first practice since straining his right hamstring two weeks ago, Lakers forward Luke Walton on Monday took an evenhanded approach.

He participated in a full practice, and plans to increase the intensity in each ensuing day. Both Lakers Coach Phil Jackson and Walton are leaning toward his sitting out the Lakers' exhibition game Tuesday against Utah, and are hoping he could play Thursday against Golden State. And after going through an off-season in which he's rehabbed his back, Walton hopes to reach that fine line between continuing to strengthen it without causing negative effects.

"Probably," Walton said when asked if the back injury that limited him to 29 games last season related to his recently strained right hamstring. "Everything's related. The back feels great, but the hamstring went on me. So I don't know if it was too much doing back exercises that was putting too much pressure on my hamstring and what-not. The positive out of it is my back has felt great all training camp. Now the hamstring is starting to feel better again, so maybe it's about just finding that good balance between doing my back stuff, but not doing too much of it and doing hamstring work as well."

Walton's injury history shows he's met that approach with mixed success. But as far as taking that even-headed approach toward the triangle offense? Walton's nailed it. Before training camp began Jackson pointed toward Walton's absence as a significant factor in the bench's inconsistency last season, because the forward's team-first mentality and knowledge of the triangle would've helped keep the unit fluid and focused more on execution than individual production.

Although the Lakers surely face more pressing issues, such as how soon Kobe Bryant will fully rehabilitate his surgically repaired right knee or how soon Andrew Bynum will return to the court, Walton's return could help address another issue the Lakers face this training camp -- helping newcomers Steve Blake, Matt Barnes, Theo Ratliff, Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter fully understand the triangle. 

"The most important thing is getting the terminology down because it's a reaction type of offense," said Walton, whose return will add more depth to the Lakers' frontline considering it's without Bynum and Caracter (back spasms). "If you don't have the terminology down, by the time it takes you to process what [Jackson's] telling you to do and you reacting, you're a second or two late already. You have to get that down. After that, a lot of it is just common sense and going to where what's open. [Jackson] always says, 'You can't make a mistake in the offense if you hit the open man or cut to the open area.' That's the truth. Feel the game out and learn the terminology."

Coach and player accounts as well as the five preseason games suggest Blake has picked up the offense the fastest. But even he agrees with the sentiment the other newcomers share, that the terminology and making the right reads are the most difficult aspects to master in the offense. To help reinforce those concepts, Walton says Jackson distributes a DVD that illustrates 10 similar plays off a certain set and encourages everyone to ask questions of him, his assistants and teammates. Even if his statistical impact has been marginal with the Lakers, Walton serves as the perfect teammate to help these newcomers get acquainted with the offense.

Walton illustrates this point by the picture he paints of himself: "It's not going out and feeling like I need to score a bunch of points but more as a playmaker and a facilitator." Illustrating this point, he finished last season with the team's best passing rating, which 82games.com determined by how many passes led to assists, including three-pointers, jumpers, close-range shots and dunks, divided by the number of passes that led to turnovers. And he illustrates it by the fact that he's going to play together off the bench with the newcomers.

They'll likely find it easier to grasp the concepts when they're playing alongside someone who fully knows how to execute them. Although the newcomers have maintained they've felt comfortable asking questions, surely it will be less intimidating asking someone of Walton's stature for help than perhaps a starter or the coaching staff. So fans shouldn't see Walton's return simply in terms of his injury uncertainty or his modest statistics. They should see his return as the addition of someone who can help extend Jackson's preparation for training camp.

"When the triangle works the way it's supposed to, it's beautiful," Walton said. "It's fun to watch. It's fun to play. When you've got guys working on the same play and making the right reads, it's great. It's the way basketball is meant to be played."

--Mark Medina

Twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Celtics forward Paul Pierce tries to power his way past Lakers forward Luke Walton in Game 1 of the 2010 NBA Finals. Credit: Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times.

 
Comments () | Archives (34)

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Is it true Justa profile will be up this week, Wow can't wait,
GO HEAT/GO LAKESHOW

Kobe888,

"Bynum, now Luke. Out of curiosity, how did you feel about Radmanovic? Farmar? I don't have to ask your thoughts on Sasha, but what are your thoughts on Fish? Just curious."

I actually still have some hope for the Machine. He seemed to have turned the corner last season before his injury, and I was hoping that would carry over into his contract year, but thus far, it doesn't look good.

Fish is a leader on this team, but I can't ignore his age and how awful he was in the regular season. I am hoping to see Blake eventually start, or at the very least, get more minute than Fish, with Fish playing the Horry role to close out games. I would like to see Blake get as many minutes as possible with Kobe and Pau to to build some chemistry for the playoffs.

All I can say about Farmar is good riddance.

I am NOT a Bynum Basher, but I am proud to say that I am, always was, and always will be a Luke Basher. He has been fleecing the Lakers for years with no end in sight. The guy never improves his game from year to year, and after years in the league, he still can't make a wide open shot, which says to me that he is not only physically fragile, but mentally fragile. This team needs warriors, not pussycats. To me, it says something about a player when the only time you play well is your contract year. His passing ability is offset by his defender leaving him wide open to double someone else, making life more difficult on his teammates. If the starting PG is Smush frickin Parker, than Luke's passing skills could be an asset, but with this current team, with Blake on board, along with Lamar in the second unit, Luke' playmaking skills do not outweigh his liabilities. I think giving Luke minutes this season will be a complete waste of time. He's an injury waiting to happen. Those valuable minutes would be better served if given to Barnes, who will need those minutes to build cohesion with his teammates and learn the Triangle. Any garbage minutes should go to EBanks, someone who actually might have a future with this team. Luke should do the Lakers a favor and just retire and join the coaching staff.

Walton's return could help address another issue the Lakers face this training camp -- helping newcomers Steve Blake, Matt Barnes, Theo Ratliff, Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter fully understand the triangle.

Then make him coach, he can't play D just like Blake. The Jazz guards ate him up, and STOMP him DOWN.

I could take issue with what TRUTH said about Luke, but I think that i'm just gonna sit back and enjoy the fact that about three and a half years and two titles after I first posted a rebuttal to Luke haters on this blog, we have three finals appearances and two championships, we still care about how Luke does, and the blog is still great.

IT IS ALL ABOUT THE LUKE! ERRRRR, LOVE!

GO LAKERS!

Wow...what is it about Michigan athletes with ties to LA today???? Looks like Gibby is auctioning off some stuff from the 88 WS:

http://www.detnews.com/article/20101018/SPORTS0104/10180390/1361/Kirk-Gibson-to-sell-items-from-memorable-1988-World-Series

perhaps I am being a tad on the complainy side, but does the Times have any pictures of Luke where he isn't being groped by Ashton Kutcher or blown past by Paul Pierce? I still suspect that all the good pictures of Laker players in the Times archives were sold in an bankruptcy settlement or something.

I have to say, in the latest picture, Luke is really showing a Gasolian proportion of 'armpit-to-rest-of-picture' ratio type thing.

Phred,

I agree with you. Luke deserves a better photo. I would suggest a photo of Luke getting his shot blocked like a volleyball (any Laker photographer should have thousands of these photos), or a photo of Luke standing on the perimeter all by his lonesome with no defender in sight, or a photo of Luke on the court with Ariza sitting on the bench. If you want a photo of Luke doing something good, than you'll have to hit the archives and find a photo from his contract year.

The picture reminds that Luke did a decent job on Pierce in whatever finals game it was where Artest was in foul trouble and Luke filled in.


I get Luke not being your favorite player, I get thinking he is overpaid, but he is a smart and selfless player, so I don't get hating him. If someone paid me that much to be OK at what I do, I'd sign the contract. You guys?

Question for folks here. Which of the teams in the West do you think will step to challenge the Lakers this year?

Can we come up with better ergonomics on the Lakers bench please? Clearly the current set up isn't doing any favors to Luke's back or PJ's hips.

TRUTH- (or anybody else reading thing)

go to any Laker highlight reel from any time Luke was healthy, and you will probably see Luke making the assist or hockey assist, or just being in the right place. Or, if you are a Luke hater, you know, keep trying to figure out why the people on the magic picture box in your living room can't hear you.

Good news on Drew - starting back on non-basktball activites ahead of schedule.


Good to have him ahead of schedule for a change.

Tom Daniels - it's OBVIOUSLY going to be the Clippers. Er, wait, it can NEVER be the Clippers (at least as long as Sterling's around).

OKC is everyone's darling (and rightfully so), but they were injury-free last season and below the radar, so we'll have to see. Good team and I'm rooting for them (behind the Lakers).

Dallas WANTS to be it, but... well, they're Dallas. They can NEVER be it.

Portland, if they can stay healthy... oh, wait, there's that health thing. I wish them good health, then they'll be tough.

Can Tim Duncan and the rest stay healthy? I think they're the sleepers.

And Houston, well, if Yao goes 65 or more games, they're my pick for second.

@Staples 24 - excellent post on the Lakers upgrade at the wing position since 08.

@Outlaw - next step is to teach Baby Outlaw to say...Lakers 3peat.

@phred - Marty McFly....lol. Van....now that's really all about the LOVE.

@MVP - phred's been asking for people to sign up on the fantasy league for about a month now. Where have you been? As far as Luke goes I think he's a valuable member of the team. He brings a different skill set than Ron, Barnes and Ebanks. He's a better passer and facilitator than they are. However, there's no need to tear down Barnes to appreciate Luke. Barnes is no lock down defender, but he is an energy guy and a agitator. The Lakers can use his skill set also.

Let Barnes and Luke (if healthy) battle it out and Phil will sort it out and award playing time accordingly. That's a good problem to have.

Question for folks here. Which of the teams in the West do you think will step to challenge the Lakers this year?
Posted by: Tom Daniels | October 18, 2010 at 05:35 PM
-----------------------------
TD - I see OKC as the biggest challenge, followed closely by Dallas and Utah. However, none of them are as good as Bos, Mia or Orlando, so I'm not really concerned.

I think that besides Laker fans, the people in charge of the words 'facilitator' and 'predicated' need to send a nice thank you card to Phil and his triangle for ensuring that their words are still used occasionally.

Oh yeah I forgot about Portland. They definitely can challenge OKC for top threat IF healthy.

FANTASY DRAFT TIME- MINUS ONE HOUR SIXTEEN MINUTES AND COUNTING!


IF YOU ARE TOO LATE TO JOIN,

phredphredington@yahoo.com

is a great way to tell me you are interested!

sign. the way I sacrifice my dignity to pimp my league.

my west predictions, and I'm trying to break it down in terms of talent instead of hype, I think Denver, the Clips and Utah are the big challengers, and OKC might be ok, but they aren't going to surprise anybody this year.

and if i apply reason in addition to talent evaluation, the Clips probably aren't going to make that list. But it would be nice.

Oh, and Houston is Yao is healthy or everybody else goes nuts, or Portland IF they have a healthy center, Nate Robin..ahem, Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge aren’t overrated, and Alvin Gen..ahem Nate McMillen can stay off the hot seat…oh, right, I’m probably thinking of some other team or teams.

I was thinking on who else in the West, and - bear with me - I know our 2nd unit hasn't gelled yet (especially with Drew out), but when the Lakers 2nd unit gels, I think THEY'RE going to be runners-up in the West behind the Lakers 1st unit.

I know you're all thinking it... I just happened to say it.

phred, did you get my e-mail about the fantasy b-ball league? Am I on the waiting for more interest list?

****CATCHING UP*********

For real tho...Monica is all kinds of CUTENESS! She may be cuter than Justa. But until she releases her Lakers Blog profile, I guess we'll never know! Posted by: utzworld - THE BANNER HOLDER | October 18, 2010 at 02:24 PM
*
BANNER HOLDER have you taken leave of your senses???. No one, NO ONE!!! I say, can compare with The Fabulous Justanothermambafan!!!!!!!!! Carry On!!
*
Somehow it looks and sounds legit for me to start back posting (in full season shape) under a thread that mentions engagement (I feel belonging more.... lol). I wanna enjoy the usual roller coast Lakers will provide this year too. Because I am sure it's not gonna be smooth. But I am as much as sure it's gonna be GREAT once again. It's a call-out to eternal shine, baby: and we're ready to light it all up. Purple and Gold. It's ready to start, so sit comfortably and enjoy this amazing race. A warm warm warm hug Fam. See you tomorrow ;) Z.. Posted by: ZairaAmaterasu | October 18, 2010 at 11:01 AM
*
Life was humdrum, full of sound and fury signifying nothing. You might ask, mamba24 why is this? Well I’ll tell you WHY!!!! Because our Goddess Zaira was not present. Then suddenly the clouds disappeared, the sun burst thru and beautiful golden rays penetrated the purple clouds and….Yes, yes YES!!! Our Goddess has returned to be with her Lakers Nation during The Greatest Championship season that will ever be known to man. With the return of the Goddess Zaira; Shannon is suddenly engaged to the beautiful Monica - who cannot hold a Candle to the Most Beautiful Being in Creation…Mari G. aka, The Fabulous Justanothermambafan. Luke Walton was lame but now because our Goddess is back he now feels he has the strength of 100 and vows to Return. Magic now feels he can go out on his own and buy his own Franchise because….yes, yes, YES!!!! Our Goddess Zaira has Returned!!! Besides the Basketball God Kobe Bryant himself, our Goddess Zaira is the one ingredient that Lakers Nation has that no other team has and we, yes WE are so HONORED TO have you as a member!!! Thank you Goddess Zaira for returning once more to be among the adoring people of your Lakers Nation. Together, with you, we shall valiantly go forth destroying all opposition in our path until we once again claim another Glorious Ring – as is our due - being the Goddess' favorite. The Goddess Zaira has returned and Lakers Nation Rejoices and Balance and Sanity returns to Lakers Nation…Cue Music http://tinyurl.com/ylp3qqc _ I Love LA

Laker J- did you put 'LAKERS BLOG' or something similar in the subject headline?

then probably, i have six (maybe seven or eight, counting people who are conditional) (justa) people. You can send it again, and please be sure to post a few more comments agitating for more people to show interest by sending emails to

phredphredington@yahoo.com

about THE LAKERS BLOG FANTASY BASKETBALL LEAGUE!

yeah, i had my shame gland removed in high school. wouldn't have survived otherwise.

MM-

Why am I the first blogger to acknowledge the brilliance of this wonderful article on Luke Walton? Everything you say on here is right on the money. Shamefully, there are those who fail to understand Luke's value and who are actually proud to say that they are Luke Bashers. Those same people seem to be pessimistic about Bynum, Fish, (formerly) Farmar and, of course, the free throw Machine, Sasha. I thoroughly enjoyed your piece. Thank you!

@MVP - phred's been asking for people to sign up on the fantasy league for about a month now. Where have you been?

Posted by: LRob | October 18, 2010 at 05:52 PM
====

Right here, my brother! I already belong to league that drafts on Wednesday, but when I saw there was a draft tonight, it got my juices flowing. No biggie.

Speak of the devil! Luke Waltons return to practice means one thing and one thing only, the return of the red barron. The Rock Hudson of the NBA has returned to wrec havoc on the minds of millions with his cerebral ball play and his injury prone body that continues break down faster than our economy. Why is this guy on this team? My guess is that it has nothing to do with basketball! Can anyone answer this mind boggling debacle?

Is it draft yet...

LEW- live draft is open

MVP888-

loser.

j/king (maybe). there is every chance the B deem draft is going to be as good as the first, and if you get in soon enough, you can complain about the draft time and get to pick a good one.

phredphredington@yahoo.com

Luke is a bust for all intents and purposes. The Lakers and Phil have to make the most of it. If Luke was that good and valuable, other teams would be knocking at the door. Do you seriously believe that the Lakers would turn down a trade for Luke? They would trade Luke for a second round pick in a heartbeat. If Barnes and/or Ebanks stay in this system long enough, they will surpass Luke's "accomplishments".


phrd - I don't think Luke is being exactly being blown past by Paul Pierce. He is after all in front of him...

phred - I don't think Luke is getting beat by Paul Pierce. he is after all in front of Paul in the picture

KobeMVP888 - Thanks for the love. It's a shame it's seen as black and white. Look the Lakers aren't going to suddenly break the Bulls' 72-win record because Luke's back. But I hoped I outlined pretty clearly why he is an integral piece to the team, even if it is a utility function

Regarding the Pierce/Luke picture....I see 3 violations...
1-Pierce carrying the ball over, as I think he's not done dribbling (I don't see a wheelchair waiting).
2-The forearm to Luke's chest is clearing out space illegally (actually needlessly, Pierce shows how much of an idiot he really is).
3-A technical foul should be called on Pierce for excessive display of emotion.


H.


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