PHOENIX — Lakers coach Phil Jackson discounted the notion that Luke Walton’s play has picked up since Vladimir Radmanovic was traded to the Charlotte Bobcats on Feb. 7, removing the chance that Walton and Radmanovic might swap roles for the second time this season.
Walton replaced Radmanovic as the Lakers’ starting small forward 20 games into the season. The Lakers acquired Adam Morrison and Shannon Brown for Radmanovic, who vented about his lack of playing time and generally appeared as if he would be happier elsewhere.
“It has to do with him being able to shoot the ball,” Jackson said of Walton, who is averaging nine points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists in his last five games, an improvement on his season averages of 4.8 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists.
“When Luke shoots the ball well, it makes a big difference in his game. I think the repetitions. He got a little under the weather right before the All-Star break and he had a couple of bad games there. He was still suffering a little bit. Now, I think he’s feeling good and feeling good about his game.”