Nets Poach Lakers’ Surprise Playoff Standout in Free Agency

Lonnie Walker, Brooklyn Nets

Getty Lonnie Walker IV #4 of the Brooklyn Nets.

A theme is forming with the Brooklyn Nets roster.

They now boast nine players with first-round pedigree following the addition of former San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonnie Walker IV.

“Free agent Lonnie Walker has agreed to a one-year deal with the Brooklyn Nets”, ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted on July 2 citing confirmation from Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul and Walker’s agent Lucas Newton.

Walker, 24, averaged 11.7 points, 1.9 rebounds, and 1.1 assists in 56 total appearances (32 starts) this past season for the Lakers. The No. 18 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft by the Spurs, Walker has been allowed to walk at the end of both of his contracts with his previous clubs but prolonged L.A.’s postseason with a couple of timely performances.

And he was better before the calendar flipped to 2023, averaging 14.7 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.4 assists while shooting 38.4% from deep in his first 32 appearances of the regular season.

He is the second backcourt addition the Nets have made in free agency joining fellow former first-round pick Dennis Smith Jr. in moves that get the Nets younger and cheaper at both spots for next season.

The deal appears to have earned Mikal Bridges’ seal of approval.

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Walker figures to play a lot with Smith behind Bridges and starting point guard Spencer Dinwiddie – who the Nets are said to be keeping – respectively.

Spotrac estimates Walker’s deal to be worth $2.3 million.

Nets’ Financial Outlook After Signing Lonnie Walker IV

Brooklyn is more than $17 million below the luxury tax threshold with 12 contracts currently guaranteed (excluding their three draft picks) after re-signing Cameron Johnson to a four-year, $108 million contract and shipping out veterans Joe Harris and Patty Mills  — who would have counted for $26.7 million combined against the salary cap next season — in separate trades.

The Nets still have the non-taxpayer mid-level exception ($12.4 million) and bi-annual exception ($4.5 million) at their disposal and have trade exceptions worth $19.9 million (Harris), $18.1 million (Kevin Durant), and $4.9 million (Kyrie Irving).

Their exception from the Harris trade won’t expire until the summer of 2024 but the ones from Durant and Irving will need to be used by the trade deadline in February.

Their three other trade exceptions total roughly $5.3 million and have similar lifespans.

Nets Might Not Be Done Adding

With signs that the Nets might not want to give up what it would take to acquire Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard amid his desire to play for the Miami Heat, they have emerged as a potential landing spot for Heat star Tyler Herro who would be redundant on the Blazers’ roster and has already gotten paid.

A version of a three-team trade exists in which the Nets land Herro’s four-year, $120 million contract and still find a way to shed some money from the bottom line.

Nothing is imminent but the Nets could be putting together an underrated group of up-and-comers from Bridges and Johnson to big man Nic Claxton and even potentially to Herro if a deal gets worked out.

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