Luke Walton says criticism on contract 'obviously bothers me'
This will either fall on deaf ears or just create more pitchfork hysteria in this corner of the blogosphere.
But in either case, Luke Walton sounds very aware of the ongoing public criticism regarding the remaining two years and $11.46 million on his contract. Fans bring up this contract anytime it's mentioned the Lakers are too strapped financially to make significant trades. They count down the days until his contract ends. They openly wonder why Mitch Kupchak signed Walton to a six-year, $30-million contract in 2007 in the first place.
In an interview with Fox Sports Radio (via Sports Radio Interviews, H/T to Pro Basketball Talk and ESPN Los Angeles' Brian Kamenetzky), Walton addressed that issue and explained in great detail why it's a little misguided.
“It obviously bothers me. I haven’t really noticed it because I kind of stay out of the media during the off-season. But obviously it bothers you as a player. You want to feel your worth. Obviously I’m getting paid a salary that was for a much larger role back when we agreed upon the deal. I was a playmaker, I was playing 30 minutes a game and I was able to do a lot of things for a team. And I had offers from other teams to do the same thing. … For the most part, fans have been great out here. Then, all of the sudden you bring in Pau Gasol and other players of that caliber and my role kind of gets smaller and smaller. I can still play the game … then all of the sudden my back goes bad on me and mentally I’m frustrated. … The role that I was paid that money to do kind of got taken away in a sense.”
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: Lakers forward Luke Walton during warmups before an April game against San Antonio. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times