Walton: James is about the team

Shine
Ahead of coaching LeBron James, the Los Angeles Lakers' Luke Walton is doing his due diligence on the prized free-agent addition.
Shine

Ahead of coaching LeBron James, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Luke Walton is doing his due diligence on the prized free-agent addition.

That included his first meeting with James over the weekend in Las Vegas, which Walton came away encouraged by.

“He’s about the team. He’s about doing things the right way, and he’s about winning,” Walton told ESPN of James. “I can work with those qualities.”

Walton is entering his third year on the sideline for the Lakers. In preparation of managing James, he has reached out to two of the star’s former coaches — the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Tyronn Lue and Miami Heat’s Erik Spoelstra — and James’ former teammates Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye, according to ESPN.

James, 33, averaged 27.5 points, 9.1 assists and 8.6 rebounds per game with Cleveland last season. He agreed to join the Lakers on a 4-year, US$154 million deal on the first official day of free agency.

James won’t be the first star player Walton has coached. The 38-year-old led the Golden State Warriors to a 39-4 record as interim coach in 2015-16 while Steve Kerr recovered from back surgery.

That team didn’t have Kevin Durant but still featured a loaded roster led by Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.

Meanwhile, the Denver Nuggets have signed guard Isaiah Thomas on a 1-year deal, the team announced on Monday.

The 29-year-old two-time NBA All-Star’s career has fluctuated over the past year following multiple moves and a troublesome hip injury.

Thomas was traded from the Boston Celtics to the Cavaliers last August as part of the deal which sent Kyrie Irving the other way.

Thomas was later traded to the Lakers in February but saw his season end in March with surgery to his right hip.

Denver president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said, however, that the opportunity of signing Thomas, who has averaged more than 20 points per game over three seasons, was too good to pass up. “It’s not every day you have the chance to add a player with the talent and pedigree of Isaiah Thomas,” Connelly said in a statement.

Thomas has played in 473 games and averages 18.9 points per game over his career. He played for Nuggets head coach Michael Malone in Sacramento during the 2013-14 season.

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