SACRAMENTO, Calif. — About five minutes after hearing Luke Walton had been dismissed as coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings general manager Vlade Divac called Walton's agent.
Finalizing the deal that brought Walton to Sacramento as the Kings' new coach didn't take much longer. After getting the call Friday, Walton changed plans to take some time off and flew to Sacramento the following day instead. He agreed to a deal that afternoon and was formally introduced as coach of the Kings on Monday.
"I knew these types of offers don't come available very often," Walton said. "I love coaching, so having that opportunity with this type of talented team and doing it alongside somebody the way I feel about Vlade made it too good to pass up on."
Divac called Walton one of his basketball "soul mates," who embraces the same philosophies in style of play and building culture on a team. The relationship between the two goes back more than a decade to when they were teammates on the Lakers in 2004-05.
Divac had wanted to interview Walton for the opening three years ago before hiring Dave Joerger but never got that chance as Walton took the job with the Lakers instead. He wasn't going to miss his chance again.
"When I believe in something, I just do it that way," Divac said. "No need to waste time. I knew exactly what I was looking for. When he was available, I just gave him a call."
Walton inherits an up-and-coming team that features several talented young players acquired by Divac: guards De'Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield, forward Marvin Bagley III and center Willie Cauley-Stein. The Kings finished nine games out of a playoff spot after being tied for the Western Conference's eighth seed heading into the final game before the All-Star break.