NBA free agency: Lakers to sign ex-Spurs wing Lonnie Walker IV for taxpayer mid-level exception, per report

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The Los Angeles Lakers are signing former San Antonio Spurs guard Lonnie Walker IV to a one-year deal for the $6.5 million taxpayer mid-level exception, according to Shams Charania. Walker was the No. 18 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft and steadily grew into a contributor for the Spurs over the past four seasons.

After being used primarily off the bench in his first two seasons, Walker started 44 games over the past two years and averaged 11.7 points per game. Perhaps more importantly, his 3-point volume has steadily increased to an average of 4.9 attempts per game over the past two seasons. His career 34.3 3-point percentage isn’t great, but he’s played on a Spurs team that hasn’t been able to surround him with elite playmakers. LeBron James should make his life much easier.

Walker has all of the athletic tools to be a strong defensive player. He may only be 6-foot-4, but he has a 6-10 wingspan and moves well across the floor. That hasn’t translated to steady defensive production, though, and he will have to buy in on that end of the floor if he is going to fit into new coach Darvin Ham’s defense-first philosophy. 

In addition to Walker and Damian Jones, who agreed to a deal early in free agency, the Lakers are also adding former Bulls and Wizards wing Troy Brown Jr., according to Charania. Like Walker, Brown is a first-round pick who is still finding himself as an NBA player. He’s been a quality defender in the past, but he needs to work on his 3-point shot. In four seasons, Brown has hit just 33.7 percent of his looks on only two attempts per game. Fitting in with the Lakers offensively means making more shots than that. 

Overall, the Lakers have prioritized youth and athleticism in building the back of their roster thus far. After last season’s roster struggled with age and injuries, the Lakers seem determined to balance the ages of their players in the hopes of building a more complete team.

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