Luke Walton was acquired in a trade package from the Los Angeles Lakers last season that included a 2012 first-round pick and Jason Kapono. Kapono was part of the Cavaliers’ organization for a brief two days after being waived. In return, the Lakers received Ramon Sessions, who left at the end of the season, and Christian (Sky) Eyenga.
Walton wasn’t looked at as a player in this trade – he was merely an expiring contract. He played in nine of the 36 games last season in which he was a Cavalier.
He has been known as Bill Walton’s son – and I mean why not, look at his dad’s resume.
Coming into the season, Walton was still viewed in the same way: an expiring contract. But Byron Scott confused some fans in the first game of the year when he put Luke Walton in the game. And from then on, he has been a rotational player coming off the bench.
During the NBA lockout, players were contemplating playing overseas to get mega-deals. Walton found himself a job. He became an assistant coach at the University of Memphis under a former assistant coach at his alma mater, the University of Arizona. However, Walton had to return to the Lakers when the lockout ended and play his contract out.
When he was with the Lakers he was a player who understood Phil Jackson’s triangle offense; and that’s what got him minutes coming off the bench. His career almost came to an abrupt end in 2009 when he suffered a back injury. It was so bad he contemplated retirement. Walton didn’t let his back injury get the best of him, and he battled back.
He has been apart of the crew that begins the fourth quarter, along with Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington, C.J. Miles and Shaun Livingston. Walton has been impressive with his passing this season. Monday night against the New York Knicks, Walton dished out 12 assists, 10 of them coming in the first half.
Walton provides a different aspect on offense. Our offense is run through the point guard, just like any other offense in the league. But when you put the ball in the hands of our power forward who can pass, you put more pressure on a bigger defender forcing him to come out, thus opening up the paint.
This season Coach Scott has given Walton the assignment of rookie Tyler Zeller and second-year power forward Tristan Thompson. While Zeller continues to struggle defensively, Thompson has been flourishing in the additional minutes he has been receiving since Anderson Varejao’s injury.
Walton has been a fun influence on this team. He provides veteran leadership and this team is starting to show good team chemistry. He is always the first one up cheering on the bench after a teammate hits a big three. Or the first one on the court giving high fives after a team calls a timeout.
This season Walton is averaging 3.2 points, 2.9 assists and 2.7 rebounds in 16.6 minutes per game; something any Joe Schmoe can do.
His play may not be worth the $6 million we’re paying him, but right now we don’t need that. What we need is what he’s providing us: veteran leadership. Walton is more valuable off the court than he is on the court. However, if he keeps dishing out assists and getting key steals late in games, the Cavs will extend a contract offer to him. Not bad for a guy who was supposed to be on the bench expiring away.