OVERVIEW: Backup forward Luke Walton’s biggest contribution this season might have been telling Coach Phil Jackson that the Lakers were better off with Trevor Ariza starting. Walton took a seat on the bench in March and Ariza sparked the Lakers as their starting small forward. Walton averaged five points and 2.8 rebounds in 64 games, including 34 starts. He also averaged 3.8 points and 2.5 rebounds in the playoffs. Walton’s statistics declined for the second consecutive season, after he averaged career-bests of 11.4 points and five rebounds in 60 games, all starts, in 2006-07. Jackson likes Walton’s passing ability, relying on him to help the second unit stick to the triangle offense. Jackson also counts on Walton to play a solid defensive game.
QUOTEWORTHY: “To make sacrifices and to see it play off, it’s really sweet.”
STRENGTH: Has a high basketball IQ, as the coaches might say.
WEAKNESS: Mid-range jump shot isn’t as sharp as it should be.
CONTRACT STATUS: Signed through 2012-13.