Luke Walton reportedly contemplating retirement
In news that will cause many Lakers fans to pop champagne bottles as if it were New Year's Eve or the end of another Lakers championship run, forward Luke Walton is reportedly considering retirement.
"One team insider said that Walton, though just 31, has indeed begun to contemplate retirement because of a debilitating back condition, with Walton himself telling ESPN.com’s Andy Katz earlier this summer that he’s seen multiple doctors who have advised him to stop playing," as reported by ESPN.com's Marc Stein and Chad Ford.
Lakers fans may need to hold on tight before popping the cork just yet. Walton is still owed $11.46 million in the next two years. Presuming his assistant coaching gig with the Memphis Tigers doesn't suddenly put him on the market as one of college basketball's elite coaches, there's 11.46 million reasons for Walton to resist hanging up his laces. The Lakers, though, may very well force the issue.
Should the new collective bargaining agreement entail an amnesty clause, as expected, all NBA teams will be able to shed one contract as if it were a Monopoly's "Get Out of Jail Free" card. There's plenty of reasons why the Lakers would most likely use that on Walton. Even though he got through the 2010-11 mostly injury free, his extensive back injuries could return. His triangle offense expertise no longer holds value with Phil Jackson gone. His lack of athleticism and speed are not good matches with Mike Brown's fast-paced offense.
So Lakers fans, hold off on celebrating for now. Like a championship run, these things don't happen overnight.
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Photo: Luke Walton talks to reporters in Memphis about his opportunity to coach college basketball. Credit: Justin A. Shaw / Commercial Appeal