The 36-year-old Lakers coach and former Warriors assistant discusses his expectations for his new team, plans for beating Golden State and whether Kevin Durant made the right decision.
MAGGIE GRAY:Have you told your players what you expect the identity of this team to be?
LUKE WALTON: I've reached out to everyone and talked to them individually, letting them know that from the way we work out to the way we do drills, it's going to be a competitive environment here. We want guys to get after each other, and we expect guys to challenge each other. It's up to our coaching staff to provide that foundation.
MG:As an opposing coach, how do you try to stop the new super team, the Golden State juggernaut?
LW:[Laughs.] I don't know. I'll wait and see what some of the other teams do. It's a copycat league, so we'll see what kind of success [coach Gregg] Popovich and San Antonio have with them. For now I guess we just hope they miss their shots.
MG:Were you surprised when KD signed with the Warriors?
LW: Yeah, I was a little surprised. I'm all for players going wherever they feel is best for them. In the business world and in the coaching world people are always taking better positions elsewhere, but when a player does it, people burn their jerseys or act like they hate the person. I was just surprised, because [the Thunder] really had us on the ropes [in the Western Conference finals]. That was a series that they probably should have won, being up 3--1. They were beating up on us, so I felt like when you get that close to getting to the Finals, that would be motivation to stay.
For more of Walton's interview, plus the SI Now archives, go to SI.com/sinow
"I'm all for players going wherever they feel is best for them."
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