LAS VEGAS — As an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors, Luke Walton enjoyed the luxury of not having to devise a game plan to stop Stephen Curry, a nightmare assignment that kept every other coaching staff up late into the evening trying to conjure up some defensive scheme that might slow the two-time MVP and arguably the greatest shooter in NBA history.
But now, roles have been reversed, and on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena, Walton will face his former team for the first time since he left to become the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.
At the moment, though, Walton said he’s not worrying about how to keep Curry from raining 3-pointers on the Lakers. Their top priority at the moment, Walton said after practice Friday, is learning their own defensive system.
“Eventually, once we don’t have to worry about that, then we can start manipulating and game-planning for multiple players,” Walton said. “So that nightmare, it’s not here yet.”
Walton added, “No, we’re not going to pick him up at half court, we’re not going to do a bunch of crazy schemes. We’re going to continue to work on what our basic defensive principles will be.”
Walton said it will be fun to see some of the former colleagues and players he worked alongside during one championship run and then a record 73-win season that ended in a Game 7 NBA Finals loss.
Will any trash-talking ensue?
“Maybe between me and Draymond [Green], but not between Steve [Kerr] and I,” Walton said with a smile.
Any trick plays?
“No,” Walton said before pausing.
He then added, “Well, maybe one or two.”
According to Anthony Slater of the Bay Area News Group, Warriors coach Steve Kerr announced to reporters that Andre Iguodala and David West wouldn’t play against the Lakers because “I want to give Luke every opportunity to prepare for [Saturday’s] clash.”
When informed of Kerr’s comment, Walton replied, “Well, you tell Steve that Lou Williams [rest] isn’t playing either, so he can have his full opportunity, too.”
Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson wasn’t with the team Friday as he flew home to San Antonio to attend the funeral of a close friend, but he’s expected to return in time for Saturday’s game.