Aside from minimum contracts, the Los Angeles Lakers had only their taxpayer mid-level exception to offer free agents this summer. And with that exception, they signed former San Antonio Spurs guard Lonnie Walker IV on a one-year deal worth $6.5 million.
Walker spent his first four seasons in the NBA with the Spurs, who drafted him 18th overall in 2018. He actually started the summer as a restricted free agent, but reportedly asked the Spurs to rescind the qualifying offer making him unrestricted and leading him to sign with the Lakers.
After signing with the Lakers, Walker discussed his thought process and what led him to Los Angeles.
“It kinda first started I was out here working out and just trying to figure out what’s next and what to do,” Walker said during his introductory press conference. “I seen that Dejounte [Murray] was about to leave to the Hawks and whatnot and I know that [the San Antonio Spurs] were about to be in the process of rebuilding and doing things of that nature.
“So we came to an agreement on what’s next, what we’re doing, so on and so forth, and the Lakers gave us a call. I’m just here, ready for the opportunity.”
Walker will now go from a Spurs team in rebuild mode to a Lakers team hoping to compete for a championship and he is willing to do whatever he needs to do in order to help them get there.
“Well it’s not about how I’m going to make this team a contender. You got the three-headed monsters on this team: LeBron, AD, and Russ, and I’m just here to be a sponge and whatever they need me to do I’m willing to do it,” Walker added.
“I’m here to win. I just seen the trophies upstairs and I kid you not I was sweating for the first 10 minutes of just looking at it because I’m very excited for this opportunity. I’m ready to fight to be a contender and to win a championship. I think at the end all, be all I’m just here to play my part and I’m here to play my part the best I can, control what I can control and consistently just stay in the gym and let everything else speak for itself.”
Walker not concerned about added pressure after signing for mid-level exception
The pressure will definitely be on Walker as he is the team’s lone free agent to not sign to a minimum deal. After Malik Monk chose to go to the Sacramento Kings, the Lakers turned to Walker and gave him their entire taxpayer mid-level exception. While Walker hasn’t necessarily thought about that being added pressure, he is ready for this next step in his journey.
“I haven’t really thought of it in that way, but I would say receiving that contract has been a blessing and I’m ready to take full opportunity of it with this one year and just be the best person I can be on and off the court,” Walker said. “Day in, day out, since I’ve found out that I was gonna be a Laker it kinda hit a whole other level knowing what the team wants, what Coach Ham wants and that’s a championship at the end of the day and that’s how I’m gonna carry myself. Day in and day out it’s just working my tail off until that time comes with the team, the season starts going up.”
“I’m just ready, I’m excited. I still got a million things going into my head right now, a million emotions. I’m just truly blessed, humbled, and hungry to start a new time with the Lakers I guess you can say.”
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