Was hiring Luke Walton a good move for Josh Pastner and Memphis Tiger Basketball?

This article originally appeared in the September 2011 issue of MemphiSport.

MSL hosts Kevin Cerrito and Marcus Hunter debate.

Marcus: I think it is a great move. Why not? Luke Walton is where most of the guys on the Tigers want to be and he knows what it takes to get there. The Tigers are better now with the NBA firepower of Walton and Damon Stoudamire.

Kevin: First of all, you can’t hire the son of a guy who single handily cost the Tigers a national championship. Luke’s father crushed the hopes and dreams of Tiger basketball fans in 1973 when he dropped 44 points in the NCAA title game. Are we 30 years away from Mario Chalmers’ son being offered an assistant job?

Marcus: Was Pastner even born then? Who cares that Luke’s dad put it on the then Memphis State Tigers? New name, new team, new rules. Luke was coached by Phil Jackson and played alongside Kobe Bryant. Maybe he can get a few Lakers to show up to practice and take on the Tigers. How cool would that be?

Kevin: He does bring minor star power to the team. But Mighty Mouse can bring in just as many NBA connections as Walton. The Tigers could always use more big time national recruits. Pastner should have hired a relative or high school coach of a top prospect. It could have taken his national recruiting ability to the next level like when John Calipari hired Dajuan Wagner’s dad.

Marcus: But Coach Pastner doesn’t need to do any of that. He has proven he can recruit. He needs assistants that can help him develop players. Last year’s Tigers team took too long to get it together. With Stoudamire and Walton they can develop players and make the young Tigers better now.

Kevin: I don’t see how you think he is a great teacher already at such a young age. Besides, he will be gone after the lockout. He is just stopping by the U of M on a short-term rental basis. Is Josh Pastner running a college basketball team or a coaching version of Netflix?

Marcus: It is a bit bizarre that Josh would hire someone who could up and leave when the lockout is over. However, this move says that a lot of NBA players believe this lockout will last awhile. And if Pastner is still in Memphis when Walton is done playing he can come back full-time. 

Kevin: Every college team needs as many top recruits as possible. Why not guarantee yourself one by hiring someone who brings in the talent for you? Then you and your staff can focus on recruiting other premier prospects. Every big time coach does it at some point.

Marcus: You don’t think having a NBA player on the coaching staff is going to help recruiting? I wouldn’t be surprised to see other college coaches follow suit and try to get some NBA players on staff. And having him running drills with the team will make them better.

Kevin: So you are saying Pastner is a trailblazer in college basketball by hiring a former Trailblazer’s son?

Marcus: He is. I bet you see many more NBA players get hired in college hoops.

Kevin: Besides the headlines that the Walton hire does, it is just too similar to the positives brought in by hiring Stoudamire, minus the real coaching experience. Get an assistant with coaching experience and a connection to a one-and-done player.

Marcus: He may not have the experience but he has been coached by Phil Jackson and has see first hand how Kobe works. I am sure he is there more for player development than X’s and O’s.

Kevin: Adam Morrison also played under Jackson, does that make him a good coaching prospect?

Marcus: Are we really talking about Adam Morrison?

Kevin: Want to talk about Kwame Brown too? Playing for Jackson doesn’t guarantee much. Now if Pastner hired Jackson himself that would be something no one could argue against.

Marcus: Luke is a smart guy. His dad is Bill Walton for crying out loud. I can promise you, Luke has picked up a lot of basketball knowledge and tools that can be used to help the Tigers this season.

Kevin: If Walton has to leave halfway through the season, Pastner should replace him with Yo Gotti. That would be a creative and headline grabbing move.

Marcus: Isn’t Gotti already on the staff?

Kevin: Haha. Not officially. 

Kevin Cerrito and Marcus Hunter host the award-winning MemphiSport Live (MSL)every Saturday at 11am on Sports56 WHBQ. Listen anytime at memphisport.net.

Photo by Leonard Ortiz / The Orange County Register.

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