The laid-back Luke Walton went into cliche mode when the Lakers maintained with a straight face that matching off against his former employer does not mean anything more significant than competing against a non-descript opponent.
“I’ll take any win no matter who we’re playing,” Walton said. “I’ll take the win.”
Fair enough. Walton stressed he remains more worried about the Lakers (2-3) ensuring they maintain good habits when they host the Golden State Warriors (3-1) on Friday at Staples Center.
Still, Walton is also honest and competitive. And so when it comes toward coaching against the Warriors after serving as an assistant for the past two seasons…
“For non important reasons, yes it would be nice to win for when I talk to them on the phone or see them in the offseason,” Walton said. “There’s some trash talking to be done. But as far as what we’re trying to do as a group and a team, whether we win or lose this one is no different than any other game.”
Well, not quite.
“I hope they have success when we’re not playing them,” Walton said of the Warriors. “But tonight, I hope they all have terrible games and that we win.”
It sounds like the trash talking has already started.
Walton became amused with Warriors coach Steve Kerr showing “fire” against the officials after disagreeing with a non-call in the first quarter of Golden State’s eventual win over Oklahoma City. Shortly afterwards, Walton shot Kerr a text message.
“It made me smile to see that happen,” Walton said.
Walton also told Warriors assistant and former Lakers coach Mike Brown that “he should’ve let Steve go” so he could argue more with the referees. For the previous two seasons, Walton never allowed Kerr to spew enough venom toward officials to prompt an ejection. But Walton gave Kerr some space for his own amusement.
“I kind of held Steve back. But I like when Steve gets fired up like that, so it was kind of like ‘fake hustle,'” Walton said. “I never did the job that Mike did as far as holding him back like that.”
Kerr has shared before the two might trash talk if he successfully runs an undisclosed play after tipoff against Walton that he previously vowed he could defend as an opposing coach. But most of the trash talk will likely take place between Walton and Warriors forward Draymond Green.
Walton remains amused about Green’s constant motor on and off the court, including throughout the Lakers’ two exhibition games against the Warriors in Las Vega and San Diego.
“Draymond does it on every play,” Lakers forward Brandon Ingram said. “It was fun.”
Still, it does not sound like Walton has invoked an extra importance on the Warriors game to his players. Nor has Walton’s own trash talking with his former co-workers translated elsewhere.
“Obviously the emotions are going to be flowing,” Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell said. “But it’s still our job to come out, take care of business and stick to the game plan and treat this game like another game as far as trying to get the win.”