The NBA lockout has been a killer, but former Arizona Wildcats have been taking different routes in spending their time. The access to team facilities revoked for the time being, Los Angeles Lakers forward Luke Walton has joined the Memphis Tigers staff as a temporary assistant coach.
Joining former UA players and assistant Josh Paster and former Wildcat guard Damon Stoudamire on the staff, Walton has been taking advantage of having a job while other NBA players don't. With the Memphis Grizzlies players using the Memphis facilities, Walton can both help Pastner built up the Memphis program while staying in shape for whenever David Stern decides to stop being a d***.
"I've got a bunch of Grizzlies players I'm working out with, my shooting coach is coming this week, and I've got a training staff and strength coach here at my disposal," Walton said. "I can do all of this during my time off when we're not practicing [during individual workouts], coaching or recruiting, so I make sure to stay ready for when the lockout ends."
Stoudamire is probably glad he's not still in the league, stuck in a battle of wills between the wealthy and the wealthier.
"I don't think they'll ever get what they want out of it," Stoudamire said. "It's millionaires battling billionaires, and you know who's going to win that battle."
For Walton, the lockout is an even more odd situation. He's battled a career-threatening back injury. At 31 years old, he's even been shifting into coaching with the Lakers, he told Katz.
"It was pretty scary. I was in a dark place and I was off to myself. Coach [Phil] Jackson invited me to be a part of the staff and sit in the coaches meetings. I had a really good time doing that. I was meeting with doctors and there were some who said I shouldn't play again. I had to think for the first time what I would do without basketball."
From an Arizona perspective, Walton's career has been wildly successful as is -- just remember that he's not the biggest, fastest or strongest guy. He left Arizona has a true point-forward, which itself is an overused term. Walton made it to the NBA because of his smarts and a basketball IQ that made it OK that he was too slow to guard an NBA small forward and way, way too small to guard a power forward.
And as such, Pastner is probably loving every week he gets of having Walton around his young Tigers team.