Luke Walton’s unemployment did not even last a full day.
He has reached an agreement to become the head coach of the Sacramento Kings, according to people familiar with the situation but not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
Walton had long been coveted by Kings president of basketball operations and general manager Vlade Divac. Divac and Walton were teammates during the 2004-05 season, Divac’s last in the NBA. He also spent seven years with the Lakers until he was traded to the Charlotte Hornets in 1996 as part of the deal that allowed the Lakers to acquire the draft rights to Kobe Bryant.
Walton’s contract with the Kings reportedly aligns with Divac’s contract, which goes through the 2022-23 season. The Kings are not expected to announce the move on Saturday.
Walton spent three seasons as coach of the Lakers, a team that drafted him in 2003. He took over after the worst season in franchise history, a season with only 17 wins. The Lakers won 26 games in Walton’s first season and 35 in his second. The addition of LeBron James did not have the expected effect, in part because of injuries to several players including James.
The Lakers won 37 games this season and missed the playoffs for an unprecedented sixth consecutive year.
Sacramento finished ninth in the Western Conference this season. Their 39-43 record was the best record the franchise has had since the 2005-06 season, when the Kings went 44-38. That was also the last time they made the playoffs.
In Sacramento, Walton will lead a young team led by point guard De’Aaron Fox, who was selected fifth overall in the same draft that the Lakers took Lonzo Ball at No. 2.
Walton replaces Dave Joerger, who was fired on Thursday after he compiled a record of 98-148 with the Kings.
Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli