It’s hard to feel bad for Luke Walton. The man plays on one of the top teams in the NBA, has won two championships, has a hall-of-fame player as his dad, and his salary-to-work output ratio is about $170K per made basket during the regular season over the last two years.
But the old adage about money not buying happiness is all but incorrect for Luke, as he’s not too happy having become the premiere example for this year’s NBA lockout of what a bloated salary looks like.
Walton, who will be spending his time this fall as an assistant coach for the University of Memphis, spoke a bit with Petros and Money of Fox Sports Radio this last Friday about his status as a contract non grata:
It obviously bothers me. I haven’t really noticed it because I kind of stay out of the media during the offseason. But obviously it bothers you as a player. You want to feel your worth. Obviously I’m getting paid a salary that was for a much larger role back when we agree upon the deal. I was a playmaker, I was playing 30 minutes a game and I was able to do a lot of things for a team. And I had offers from other teams to do the same thing.
“For the most part, fans have been great out here. Then, all of the sudden you bring in Pau Gasol and other players of that caliber and my role kind of gets smaller and smaller. I can still play the game … then all of the sudden my back goes bad on me and mentally I’m frustrated. … The role that I was paid that money to do kind of got taken away in a sense.”
When Walton resigned with the Lakers in 2007, he was the third leading scorer per game, followed closely by Laker forgettables Smush Parker, Maurice Evans and Kwame Brown.
A contract that was perfectly fair, if even a bargain, back before the Pau Gasol trade and two championships now reflects poorly on Lakers management, but you can’t blame the organization for the move at the time. The roster in 2007 that had Walton as the third-best player pales in comparison to the 2011 roster, where Walton can barely crack the rotation amongst the likes of Gasol, Odom, Barnes and Artest.
Hear the entire Luke Walton interview courtesy our partners at Fox Sports Radio LA.