INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- Luke Walton leaned against a wall, holding a basketball and wearing a wide smile.
He looked ready to play.
Walton is a 31-year old small forward and Laker for life -- until Thursday, when the Lakers shipped him to the Cavaliers as part of the Ramon Sessions trade.
But Walton seemed OK with that, as former Cavs coach Mike Brown really found no use for him in LA. With the Lakers, Walton played in just nine games, averaging 7.2 minutes.
At one time, he was a key part of Phil Jacksons rotation and a major player in the Triangle offense. But for the Lakers, those days are long gone.
We werent on the same page, Walton said from the Cavs practice facility Saturday. I felt great and was playing well. Mike said he was going with a certain rotation. With the shortened season and not that many practices, there werent many opportunities to earn time.
Walton, of course, is the son of legendary NBA center Bill Walton. Like his father, he gained a reputation as a proficient passer. During many of those Lakers title runs, Walton was credited with keeping the ball moving and getting it in the hands of some of his more illustrious teammates, such as Kobe Bryant.
Hes pretty smart, Cavs coach Byron Scott said of Walton. He knows how to play the game. He understands basketball. Being in that family all his life, its pretty obvious that he has a (high) basketball IQ.
The Cavaliers already had two small forwards on the roster in Alonzo Gee and Omri Casspi. Both have started. So just like in LA, Walton may be the victim of a numbers (and minutes) crunch.
But maybe not, too.
I dont know yet, Scott said of how much hell use Walton. I want to see how quickly he grasps everything. As far as playing him and things like that, Im not ruling it out, put it that way.
Walton is a California guy. He played college basketball at Arizona, then returned to his home state as a pro. He said the trade East took him by surprise.
I was sick and missed the whole road trip the week before, he said. I was in bed all week. I finally felt good on Thursday morning, then got the call from (Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak) saying, 'Sorry, but it's been done.' I had 48 hours to get on a plane and get to Cleveland.
This is Waltons ninth NBA season. His best year came in 2006-07, when he averaged career-highs in points (11.4), rebounds (5.1) and assists (4.3). Numbers-wise, its been all downhill since.
But he feels like he can still contribute. And now that hes a member of the Cavs, hes like everyone else. He wants to play -- and he wants to win.
Im definitely excited about it, he said. I had a great run in LA. I was there 8 years. Its a chance to do something new. We have a great young team here.
The first thing I did was get on the laptop and see if we have a chance to make the playoffs. Were only two games out. Its exciting to be out here and work with some of these young guys and try to make a run.
Thompson to start
Scott said rookie big man Tristan Thompson will start for the first time in Sundays home game vs. Atlanta (3 p.m., FOX Sports Ohio). Thompson will replace Ryan Hollins at center, Scott said.
That makes us small but I figured what the heck, Scott said. Hes been playing at that position as a reserve, so lets start him and see how he plays.
Thompson is averaging 6.7 points and 5.7 rebounds. He scored 16 in the Cavs only other game against the Hawks this season. He took the promotion in stride.
Your name just gets called earlier and Ill just come out there and play hard, Thompson said. Im going to do what Ive done all year, run the floor, rebound and be aggressive.
Guard Manny Harris has returned to the Cavs and been signed for the rest of the season. The Cavs waived Jason Kapono, who came with Walton in the Lakers trade, to clear the roster spot.
Scott said and GM Chris Grant will keep an eye on the waiver wire. When have guys that are going to get waived, you have to take a list at that list, Scott said. There might be somebody on that list that we like.
Walton said the back issues that have plagued him recently barely exist today. I have a lower back vertebra issuepinched nerve thing going on, he said. Its slowly getting better. It stopped hurting this year. Im crossing my fingers.
Ramon Sessions scored 7 points and passed for 4 assists in his unexpected Lakers debut Friday, a win over Minnesota.
The Lakers traded longtime favorite Derek Fisher (to Houston) to make room for Sessions. I'm not here to replace Fisher," Sessions told LA reporters. "I'm just here to do whatever they need me to do and try to win games.
The Lakers are an NBA-best 19-2 at home.
Follow Sam Amico on Twitter @SamAmicoFSO