If there’s one team most Phoenix Suns fans can’t stand, it’s the Los Angeles Lakers.
Apparently the folks in Tucson don’t share that same vision.
The Lakers announced Tuesday they have hired Miles Simon as an assistant coach.
Simon, a University of Arizona alumnus, joins a Lakers coaching staff that is already full of Wildcats. Head coach Luke Walton played basketball at UA from 1999-2003, assistant coach Jud Buechler played from 1986-90, while Jesse Mermuys graduated there in 2004.
So, make that four Wildcats now in charge of winning games for the Lakers.
Of course, without Walton’s influence, it’s hard to say how many would be coaching regularly at Staples Center. But don’t let that fool you into thinking these guys aren’t the right men for their job.
Walton enjoyed a long playing career after his time at the university, staying 10 seasons in the NBA with stints in Los Angeles and Cleveland. He joined another former Wildcat’s staff, Steve Kerr’s, in Golden State in 2014, where he was an assistant coach. However, he was much more than just Kerr’s assistant. The now two-time NBA champion as a head coach missed 43 games in 2015-16 to recover from back surgery, and Walton led the Warriors to a 39-4 record.
That sample size was large enough for the Lakers to target him in the offseason. Last year, Los Angeles went 26-56 under his leadership.
Simon joins him after nine NBA offseasons in a player development role. He was the 1997 NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player after taking the Wildcats to the promised land. He played at Arizona from 1994-98, and later joined the team under Lute Olson from 2005-08.
Mermuys was a head coach in the D-League most recently before taking the Lakers job. Before that, the Tucson native was with the Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets and Toronto Raptors.
Like Walton, Buechler also had a long NBA career, playing for seven teams, including the Suns, over the course of 12 seasons.
Now all of these former Wildcats will be trying to turn a struggling Lakers franchise around. Something we’re sure their college is proud of, even if it is for the Valley’s rival squad.
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