Kings introduce Walton as coach, hope pairing leads to 'awesome chapter'

Noel Harris, The Sacramento Bee on

Published in Basketball

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The Kings introduced their new coach Monday, but their was no introduction needed between that man and the team's general manager.

The relationship between Luke Walton and Vlade Divac began in the 2004-05 NBA season, when they were teammates with the Los Angeles Lakers. It was Walton's second NBA season and the last of Divac's 16-year career.

Walton, who is taking his second head coaching job after spending the last three seasons leading the Lakers, said the friendship has continued since.

"If you're really in it, those bonds last a lifetime," Walton said Monday during his introductory news conference at Golden 1 Center. "There's trust that's already between us that would take years to build without having that history together. I'm so excited to work side-by-side with him."

Divac said he jumped at the opportunity to speak with Walton, who mutually parted ways with the Lakers on Friday, a day after the Kings fired Dave Joerger. Asked when he contacted Walton, Divac said he "called his people literally five minutes after" the Lakers' split went public.

"My first choice was Luke, and when he was available, (I wanted) to act fast," Divac said. "I know how he views basketball. It's very similar to how I view it. When I realized he was available, it was an easy call for me to reach out."


The two met in Sacramento on Saturday and a deal was reached quickly. While the team isn't disclosing the terms of the deal, The Bee and other media outlets report it was for four years, which would line up with the extension Divac received Thursday.

"When this opportunity came and he reached out and showed me the type of support and laid out his vision of where he sees this thing going, it was identical to how I saw one, the game, and two, from the outside what this Kings team was about and where they were headed to," Walton said. "It was something I talked to my wife and family about, and we decided this is going to be an awesome chapter in our lives."

Walton said he planned to relax a bit after leaving the Lakers, but Divac had other plans.

"Sorry, Bre," Divac said, addressing Walton's wife in the front row. "He was planning to take you on vacation, but I was like, 'Nope,' " which drew laughs.


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