The Los Angeles Lakers knew they needed to nail their taxpayer mid-level exception signing as it was one of the only tools at their disposal in free agency.
The Lakers were connected to every 3-and-D wing in the market but most of them ended up signing for more money than they could have offered. However, Los Angeles quickly pivoted as they used their exception to sign Lonnie Walker IV to a one-year deal.
Walker is an incredibly athletic guard who can create his own shot and believes his skills on both ends of the floor will serve him well in his new home.
“I see my skillset fitting perfectly,” Walker said during his introductory press conference. “I mean, I’m here to do whatever I need to do in order for the team to win and that’s, for the most part, I’m coming here to play defense. Play the best I can, play the hardest I can and let the game speak for itself.
“Offensively, I know I can provide for a lot. Defensively, I’m here to just do what I do. Whoever you want me to guard, whenever there’s time for me to make some stops that’s what I’m here for.”
As far as a starting role goes, Walker brushed it off and emphasized he’s only focused on doing what it takes to win a championship.
“Listen, I’m adaptable. I’m like a chameleon I can change due to my environment. If it’s coming off the bench and that seems like the best fit so be it. If it’s a starter then so be it as well. I would love to be a starter, but that’s not up to me, I’m just here to play ball at the end of the day. I’m here to win, and I’m here to get that ‘chip.”
For a 23-year-old, Walker showed great maturity when it came to how he’ll be used and that team-first mentality will serve him well on a Laker squad looking to bounce back from last year. There’s plenty of upside left in Walker and it will be exciting to see how he pans out during the 2022-23 season.
Lonnie Walker IV confident in guarding one through three
Defensively, Walker’s going to need to show he’s better than how he looked with the San Antonio Spurs. At 6’4″ with a 6’10” wingspan, Walker may be an intriguing option in small-ball lineups and he acknowledged that he’s comfortable defending guards and even small forwards.
“One through three,” Walker said of the positions he’s comfortable guarding. “I done gained a little bit more weight now I’m around 215 so if I maybe have to guard the four so be it, I’m ready for the physicality. I’ve been preparing myself to just guard multiple positions and be mentally ready for that task.”
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