Lonnie Walker IV has found a new home. The former Spur has agreed to a one-year, $6.5 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, according to The Athletics's Shams Charania. He’s the first free agent to leave San Antonio this offseason, but he might not be the last.
It’s no surprise to see Walker continue his career elsewhere. The talented but inconsistent wing was always expected to leave in free agency, but it became obvious he wasn’t on the team’s plans when the front office rescinded the qualifying offer that would have made him restricted. Just hours ago General Manager Brian Wright told local media that the draft, in which the Spurs picked two guards, played a part in making Walker more expendable, bringing more clarity to the situation. All that was left to figure out was what his next team was going to be, and now we have an answer.
The Lakers make sense for Walker, even if the contract — almost exactly the same in terms of money and years as he would have gotten by signing the qualifying offer in San Antonio — seems low. LeBron James’ team lost bench scorer Malik Monk to the Kings in free agency and needed a replacement. Walker should fit that role perfectly and for a fraction of what Monk is making. Surrounded by two stars and a dominant ball handler like Russell Westbrook, Lonnie should be able to pick his spots on offense instead of trying to create his shots, which should help his efficiency. If his three-point shot returns to his career averages and the potential to make a deep postseason run motivates him to try on defense, he could end up being a bargain. If things don’t work out, he gets to re-enter free agency in a year.
Spurs fans would have probably prefer to see Walker pick a different team, but it’s hard to blame him for choosing a place in which he will likely get minutes and find a role. Watching him reach his potential elsewhere would be bittersweet, but it was clearly not going to happen in San Antonio, so parting ways simply makes a lot of sense.
Thanks for everything and good luck in Los Angeles, Lonnie.