Lakers News: Expert Throws Some Shade at Recent LA Free Agent Signee

The Athletic’s Jovan Buha doesn’t have high hopes for Lakers Lonnie Walker IV this coming season.

The Lakers had little salary cap to spare entering free agency in early July. That will happen when you’re paying Anthony Davis, LeBron James, and Russell Westbrook upwards of $129.5M this coming season. Vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka opted to sign younger free agents to veteran minimum contracts and use the team’s taxpayer mid-level exception ($6.5M) on 23-year-old guard Lonnie Walker IV.

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Pelinka and his front office team publicly stated that their main priority was signing 3-and-D players. None of their signings, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Troy Brown Jr., nor Thomas Bryant fit that profile, especially Lonnie Walker IV.

In an article earlier this month, Jovan Buha, who covers the Lakers for The Athletic was complimentary of most of the Lakers free agent signings, but wasn’t “high” on LA burning their mid-level on a guard who didn’t stick on a rebuilding San Antonio Spurs team that traded away emerging star Dejounte Murray this offseason.

“I’m about equally high on four of their five signings, with the exception being Lonnie Walker IV.”

In an accompanying article, Buha detailed why he has some questions about the viability of Walker in the context of the Lakers roster and what LA spent to sign him.

“Interestingly, Walker said he came to the Lakers ‘to play defense’ and that ‘whoever you want me to guard, whenever it’s time for me to make some stops, that’s what I’m here for.’ Perhaps a mindset shift can unlock a better defender under the tutelage of Ham and his coaching staff. But based on his performance in San Antonio, it doesn’t seem very likely.”

If Walker can’t provide defensive upside, he’ll have to offset those shortcomings with offense. He did average a career-high 12.1 PPG last year in San Antonio, but shot just 31.4% from three. On a LeBron James led team, quality three-point shooting is a must.

The Lakers had a better-than-last-summer offseason, but there’s still plenty of questions about the new supporting cast. 

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