Oct 31, 2011, 3:28 PM EDT
Luke Walton inherited from his father the genetic gifts needed to be an NBA player, plus the gene that makes you like the Grateful Dead. But he also seems to have inherited his father’s debilitating back issues.
Those issues have kept the younger Walton on the Lakers bench much of the last two seasons, frustrating Lakers fans, coaches and Walton himself. Now comes in new coach Mike Brown and a new offensive system not likely to match Walton’s skill set like the triangle did (when healthy Walton worked well in Tex Winter’s design).
Walton has popped up on the list of guys most likely to get waived under the new “amnesty clause” that will be part of the labor deal. He is owed $11.5 million over two seasons and is still injured, so he’s a likely target. But over at ESPN they say something else could happen.
One team insider said that Walton, though just 31, has indeed begun to contemplate retirement because of a debilitating back condition, with Walton himself telling ESPN.com’s Andy Katz earlier this summer that he’s seen multiple doctors who have advised him to stop playing.
I could see why Walton would consider retirement. He feels his back pain, sees everything his father has gone through and realizes that is not where he wants to be.
But I can think of 11.5 million reasons Walton is not going to retire. Maybe in a couple of years when his contract is up, and maybe if he does get waived (he still gets paid the money if he gets waived, it’s just that with the amnesty clause it doesn’t count against the Lakers’ books).
But not now, because $11.5 million can pay for one to follow Phish around for a long time. He’s not going to walk away from that.