Have you ever wondered how a middling reserve became a multi-millionaire? In #HowDidHeGetPaid, we explore how these players attained their inflated salaries, and what has transpired since.
In 2012-13, Luke Walton is averaging 2 points, 2 rebounds, and 1 assist per game, yet he stands to make nearly $6.1 million this season. So, how did he get paid? In 2005-06, Luke helped the 8th seeded Lakers push the Suns to 7 games. The next season, he posted career highs in points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, and minutes played. In the 2007 off season, Luke was considered one of the best free agent small forwards available. The Lakers, hoping to lock up a key contributor for Phil Jackson’s triangle offense for years to come, inked Walton to a 6-year, $30 million dollar contract, in a classic case of overpaying your own free agent.
Unfortunately for Luke, that’s where things went awry. In 2007-08, Luke competed for minutes with Vlad Radmanovic — no seriously, I’m not making this up — and Trevor Ariza, and a severe back injury claimed all but 29 games in 2009-10. With the arrival of small forwards Ron Artest and Matt Barnes, Walton saw his minutes dwindle and his overpaid status was cemented. Eventually the Lakers traded Luke to the Cavaliers for Ramon Sessions, parting ways the injury-riddled and overpaid fan favorite.
When Luke’s contract expires at the end of this season, his playing career will likely be at an end. He won’t be through with basketball, however, as the son of Bill has already made future plans for when retirement comes. Last year, he signed on as an assistant coach with the Memphis Tigers during the duration of the lockout. Having grown up with game Luke always carried the reputation of a player with a lot of basketball smarts and coaching would seem to be a logical step. Also, for those wondering about the merits of Kobe Bryant as a leader and teammate, Luke would be a great person to ask.