SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Speaking publicly for the first time since sexual assault allegations were made against him, new Sacramento Kings coach Luke Walton said his focus remains on the team.
“Yeah, I mean, look, it’s the same I’ve been saying,” Walton said during Friday’s media day. “I’m here to do my job and focus on our Kings and get us where we need to get and the rest of it will take care of itself.”
Walton, who was fired by the Los Angeles Lakers at the end of last season and quickly hired by the Kings soon thereafter, is the subject of an ongoing civil suit brought by Kelli Tennant, a former host on Spectrum SportsNet LA, the Lakers’ regional sports network. Tennant said in the lawsuit filed in April that Walton assaulted her in a Santa Monica, California, hotel room in 2014.
Walton, when asked if the lawsuit could be a distraction in his new job, said he’s asking the players to focus on what they can control.
“We’re together as a group and what we have to focus on is what we have in front of us and what we can control,” Walton said. “So this is my job; it’s my job to be the best for my players and be there for my players. And that’s what I plan to do.”
Walton, who was an assistant with the Golden State Warriors at the time of the alleged assault, said in a court brief filed in July that the allegations against him are not backed up by facts and are designed to attract media attention.
The Kings and the NBA launched a joint investigation into the allegations in April. In August, the league and the Kings issued a joint statement saying there was “not a sufficient basis to support” the sexual assault allegations made against Walton. Tennant did not participate in the investigation.
The NBA and the Kings said that the investigation is closed unless new evidence becomes available.
Walton, who enters the season at the helm of a young and promising team that is projected to push for a playoff spot in a loaded Western Conference, said Friday he’s focusing on getting the team to the next level.
“…I think [Kings GM] Vlade’s [Divac] done an unbelievable job with his front office of getting a young core in place and then going out this offseason and putting great vets around them,” Walton said. “So my focus is on the Kings and what we’re doing to get this group to the next level.”