Lonnie Walker IV, set to be a restricted free agent, says he’s hopeful he’ll stay with San Antonio Spurs – Reading Eagle


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Lonnie Walker’s IV fourth NBA season ended Wednesday night with San Antonio’s 113-103 road loss to the New Orleans Pelicans in a Western Conference play-in game.
The Reading High grad’s time with the Spurs might have come to a close, as well.
Walker, 23, is set to be a restricted free agent this summer after he and the Spurs could not agree on a contract extension before the start of the season.
San Antonio selected him out of the University of Miami with the 18th overall pick in the 2018 draft.
“I’m hopeful to be back,” Walker told reporters following Wednesday’s game on a video posted by San Antonio television station KENS at kens5.com. “At this point, it’s up to my agents. I’m gonna take a nice, slow vacation with my fiancée, call it a summer and get back into grind mode.”
Walker will become a restricted free agent if the Spurs extend him a qualifying offer by June 29. He could accept the offer, which is a one-year guaranteed deal, or he could sign an offer sheet with another team. The Spurs would then have two days to match that offer.
“It’s my first time so clearly I really can’t tell you what’s going to be going on,” Walker said. “I’m going to stay in my lane. I’m a basketball player, I’m here to hoop. I’m not here to be an agent and talk about negotiations and what not.”
Walker, who made $4.4 million in the final year of his rookie contract, endured an up-and-down season, but he improved following the All-Star break.
He ended up averaging a career-high 12.1 points over 70 games. He shot 40.7% from the field, including 31.4% on 3-pointers. He also averaged 2.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists.
In 16 games after the All-Star Game, he averaged 15.3 points and shot 44.3% from the field, 36.7% on 3-pointers.
“The hardest thing for me was worrying about the end goal more than anything,” Walker said of his second-half turnaround. “If I didn’t have a good game, I’m like, ‘Damn, I’m not doing what I’m supposed to do. Everyone is heckling me. It’s not how it’s supposed to be.’
“But I really had to dial in and just focus on day-to-day, not focus on the future, short-term, long-term goals. I had to just worry about the game, worry about the day, worry about the practice. Dominate the day. After games I was going into the gym to shoot. During practice I was getting my two-a-days, coming back in at night and getting shots up. I controlled what I could and just stayed in the gym as much as I could.”
One issue down the stretch was that Walker missed five of the Spurs’ final 11 regular season games while dealing with a back issue after getting kneed during a game March 18.
After Wednesday’s game, in which he scored 12 points in 17 minutes off the bench on 5-of-9 shooting from the field, including 2-for-4 on 3-pointers, Walker certainly sounded like someone who planned on returning to San Antonio.
“I’m excited,” he said. “I think the young core, we have a great set of players. This is nothing but experience for us and growth. We know what we’re capable of.
“I’m happy that this is the first year we finally got the experience and the growth and everything we needed and I think going into next year we’ll be more prepared and ready to go.”
That said, Walker made it clear that he won’t be waiting for his phone to ring while he’s on that
“I’m definitely throwing it in the ocean,” he said. “You might get a call from a goldfish or something.”
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