April 28, 2016 / 4:16 AM / 3 years ago

Lakers get permission to approach Walton over coaching role

(Reuters) - The Los Angeles Lakers have been given permission to speak to Golden State assistant coach Luke Walton over their vacant coaching job, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said on Wednesday.

Golden State Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton smiles during warm ups before game five against the Houston Rockets of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The 36-year-old will be able to hold talks with the Lakers at the conclusion of Golden State’s first round playoff series against the Houston Rockets, which the Warriors led 3-1 ahead of Wednesday’s Game Five.

“We told Mitch that he’s perfectly welcome to talk to Luke as soon as the series is over and we have a little break,” Kerr said of Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak.

Walton, a former Lakers forward, became one of the most coveted coaching prospects in the NBA after leading the Warriors to a 39-4 start this season while Kerr was recovering from back surgery.

Should he join the Lakers, Walton would be reunited with a franchise where he spent the bulk of his playing career and was a member of two NBA title-winning teams.

Walton was also a part of the Warriors staff that helped the team capture a first NBA championship since 1975 last year.

The Lakers are looking to rebuild after firing head coach Byron Scott following a franchise-worst 17-65 season and bidding farewell to all-time great Kobe Bryant, who retired earlier this month after a glittering 20-year career in Los Angeles.

“It’s not something that we want to drag out,” Kupchak told reporters of the team’s hiring process earlier this week.

“We’ll contact some people and go from there.”

Italian San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Ettore Messina, who spent time as a consultant with the Lakers in the 2011-12 campaign, is being mentioned by the North American media as another possible candidate for the job.

Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by John O'Brien

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