Lakers Free Agent Rumors: Lonnie Walker IV Expected To Receive Contract In $4-7 Million Range
Lonnie Walker IV, Lakers
Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

Lonnie Walker IV had one of the most unique season arcs on the Los Angeles Lakers throughout the 2022-23 campaign. He signed a one-year contract worth $6.5 million with the Lakers during the offseason.

He then began the year as a critical role player, and for a stretch, was legitimately one of the team’s best players.

But as Austin Reaves continued developing and showing his strengths, Troy Brown Jr. became a more vital part of the rotation and the Lakers acquired Malik Beasley and D’Angelo Russell at the trade deadline, Walker fell out of the rotation.

He then found his way back in with some incredible postseason performances, rehabilitating some of the value he lost as he enters free agency. Now, it appears he is likely to receive a contract in the $4-7 million range as he hits the open market again this summer, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic via HoopsHype:

Lonnie’s situation is a bit of a tricky one. First, there’s the Klutch Sports connection, which is always a factor with any Lakers guys… He played really well in the first half of the season. The second half of the season, they started Austin and brought in Malik Beasley. Troy Brown was playing well, and Lonnie fell out of the rotation. IN Game 4 against the Warriors, he potentially saved the Lakers’ season. I think that playoff performance and him re-emerging in the rotation bumps him up into that mini mid-level range again or the bi-annual exception on him. I think he’s in that $4-7 million range.

In his exit interviews, he made it clear he thinks highly of himself. He’s very confident. He wants a big role. From the Lakers’ side, they have his non-Bird Rights. I think he’s probably looking more at his role in his next contract that he’ll prioritize. I suspect he’ll end up elsewhere at a place where he can start or be a sixth or seventh man.

Financially, Walker’s projected contract range works well in the Lakers’ favor. They have his non-bird rights, meaning they can offer him a 20% raise on his 2022-23 salary without regard for the salary cap. That puts his maximum potential earnings with the Lakers at approximately $7.8 million.

If his market value is around $4-7 million, the Lakers could actually offer him more money than anyone else. However, it’s not all about money this offseason for Walker. The fifth-year guard wants to maximize his future earnings, and the best way to do that is to secure a larger role, not a larger payday.

The Lakers — should they retain all of their guards — won’t have a sixth or seventh-man role to offer Walker. It could be their downfall in trying to retain him, although it remains to be seen how things will ultimately shake out considering the Lakers can go in a variety of different directions.

Spurs a candidate to poach Reaves

Another Lakers free agent that will require a major decision is Austin Reaves. Reaves is an Arenas rule restricted free agent, which limits his total earnings over the next two seasons and still gives the Lakers the right to match any offer.

One team that may come in strong with an attempt to take Reaves from the Lakers is the San Antonio Spurs, who are required to spend this summer to avoid the salary floor.

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