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SIGNED: Nets inking Lakers’ Lonnie Walker IV to one-year minimum deal

Los Angeles Lakers v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Nets plan on signing 6’5” wing Lonnie Walker IV, who has averaged nearly 10 points a game over a five-year career with the Spurs and Lakers, to a one-year deal. The deal is for the vets minimum.

Adrian Wojnarowski was first with the news...

Walker himself had this to say in a tweet...

And new teammate Mikal Bridges seems to be on-board as well...

Walker is the Nets second signing since the opening of free agency on Friday. They previously agreed to ink Dennis Smith Jr., also to a vets minimum deal. The Nets see him as fitting their age, ability and athleticism requirements. The Nets have also traded away Joe Harris and Patty Mills while re-signing Cam Johnson.

The 24-year-old Walker played for the Lakers last season, averaging a career-high 11.7 points on shooting splits of 45/37/86 in 23 minutes. Then in L.A.s run to the Western Conference Finals, he put up 6.2 points per game. in 14 minutes on 48/38/75 shooting. He started 32 regular season games for the Lakers.

A rangy athlete with a 6’10” wingspan and 40” max vertical, Walker was drafted 18th by the Spurs in 2018. He played four years with the Spurs but asked out in the summer of 2022 when San Antonio drafted two prospects with similar games. He signed a one-year deal with the Lakers for $6.5 million after asking the Spurs to rescind his qualifying offer.

Walker entered the NBA as more of a high-flying athlete but eventually developed a 3-point shot, hitting better than 36% in three of his five seasons. His off-the-dribble game and feel for the game have been criticized in the past.

Last season, he played mostly a back-up game in L.A. Early in the season, he averaged 14.7 points in 29.8 minutes per game while shooting 45.5% from the field and 38.9% on 3-pointers before being sidelined with knee tendinitis, missing 14 games. By the time he returned, Austin Reaves has taken most of his minutes and the Lakers had acquired and D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Rui Hachimura before the trade deadline.

Then in the Laker playoffs series with the Warriors, Walker had two big games, scoring 12 points in Game 2 then in Game 4, he scored all 15 of his points in the fourth quarter to help the Lakers overcome a seven-point deficit and win 104–101.

Here’s video of that run...

Dave McMenamin, Woj’s ESPN colleague who covers the Lakers, praised the signing, noting Walker’s Game 4 heroics

Johnson had been known for his unique hairstyle but in June 2020, Walker revealed he had been the victim of sexual abuse by family members as an adolescent, and had grown out his trademark long hairstyle as a coping mechanism. In deciding to cut his hair, Walker described the act as having “shed my skin mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.”

According to his hometown paper, the Reading Eagle, Walker was in town recently to dedicate a refurbished basketball court at the local Baer Park. The $180,000 cost of the project was split between the city and the Lonnie Walker IV Foundation.