Lonnie Walker IV settling in nicely with Spurs this summer
By TIM REYNOLDS, AP Basketball Writer
LAS VEGAS (AP) — These are highly uncertain times for the San Antonio Spurs.
That’s why Lonnie Walker IV might be so valuable.
This is a summer when Spurs mainstay Tony Parker has already left for Charlotte, when four-time NBA champion Manu Ginobili is going through what now seems like his annual contemplation of retirement and when 2014 NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard’s future is most uncertain — both in terms of where he may play next and if his quadriceps injury is healed to the point where he can return to the court.
But Walker IV is here, and he’s eager to be a part of whatever will be in San Antonio.
“I’ve worked so hard to get to this moment that I can’t not be confident to play against grown men who are older than me,” said Walker, who turned pro after one season with the Miami Hurricanes. “I know day-in and day-out the blood, sweat and tears I put into this game and how great a player I can become.”
He had 14 points in the Spurs’ 95-90 win over the Washington Wizards on Sunday — Day 3 of the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, where there was another 10-game slate as the teams progress toward the start of playoffs later this week.
It’s hard to imagine there’s a player in Las Vegas happier with his current lot in life than Walker IV.
He just got his first apartment, a major accomplishment for a kid whose upbringing in Reading, Pennsylvania was often challenging to say the least. In an Instagram post after getting his new place in San Antonio, Walker IV opened up about how hard times were.
“Survival by the fittest was the strategy growing up,” he wrote. “Splitting a cheeseburger for dinner. Chips for breakfast. Not knowing where I will sleep the next day. Living with 10 plus people. Waking up in the middle of the night because your house got shot up. Who would’ve thought at the age of 19. I’m alive and healthy and just got my first apt. Who would’ve thought that this kid from Reading would make it out. No one understands my struggle and my pain.”
Such worries are long gone.
He’s guaranteed to make $5 million in salary over the next two years, has signed a shoe deal with Adidas and more than likely will grab a few more endorsements along the way.
In other words, no more splitting cheeseburgers for him. And he hopes his story motivates anyone it reaches.
“To any kid who is trying to become an NBA player or trying to become something in life, I’ve been through it all,” Walker IV said. “You can’t let adversity continue to knock you down. I just want to continue to motivate everyone and believe that they can be happy and be something special.”
SPURS 95, WIZARDS 90
Jaron Blossomgame’s follow-up dunk with 9.7 seconds left helped San Antonio, which led by 20 points early, hold off Washington. The Wizards had two shots to tie or take the lead in the final seconds, missing both. Blossomgame led the Spurs (1-1) with 22 points. Devin Robinson scored 24 points, Troy Brown Jr. added 21 and Thomas Bryant scored 20 on 9-for-11 shooting for Washington (0-2).
TIMBERWOLVES 103, RAPTORS 92
Keita Bates-Diop scored 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for Minnesota (1-1). Jonathan Stark and Josh Okogie each added 16 points for the Timberwolves. Jordan Loyd scored 17 for the Raptors (0-2).
HORNETS 94, HEAT 90
Willy Hernangomez and Dwayne Bacon had 22 points apiece and second-round pick Devonte Graham made all four free throws in the final 5.2 seconds to help the Hornets hold off the Heat. Graham finished with 12 points and the No. 12 selection Miles Bridges added 14 points for Charlotte (2-0). Daryl Macon had 17 points and Landry Nnoko added 12 points and 13 rebounds for the Heat (0-2). Derrick Jones Jr. left the game in the first quarter with an ankle injury.
TRAIL BLAZERS 85, HAWKS 68
Jake Layman scored 23, going 4 of 5 from 3-point range, and John Jenkins and Anfernee Simons added 12 points apiece for the Trail Blazers (2-0). John Collins had 18 points and nine rebounds for the Hawks (0-2), who were 4 of 28 from 3-point range. No. 5 pick Trae Young was scoreless in nine minutes before leaving the game with a quad contusion. The injury is not considered to be serious.
MAVERICKS 81, BUCKS 78
Johnathan Motley had 20 points and seven rebounds, Dorian Finney-Smith added 14 points and Dennis Smith Jr. scored 10 for the Mavericks (1-1). The Bucks rallied late, but second-round pick Jalen Brunson made a steal in the final seconds that secured the win for Dallas. Travis Trice II had 16 points, Sterling Brown scored 14 and Christian Wood had 10 points and 10 boards for the Bucks (1-1).
ROCKETS 87, WARRIORS 81
RJ Hunter scored 24 and made 5 of 11 from 3-point range, and De’Anthony Melton added 17 points for Houston (2-0). The Rockets outscored the Warriors 35-14 in the fourth quarter and closed the game on a 7-1 run. Marcus Derrickson had 23 points to lead the Warriors (1-1).
JAZZ 90, KNICKS 85
Georges Niang had 20 points and eight rebounds and Tony Bradley scored 16 points for Utah (1-1). Niang made a pair of free throws with 22 seconds left to make it a two-possession game. Diamond Stone added 14 points and Jairus Lyles scored 11. No. 9 pick Kevin Knox scored 19 to lead the Knicks (1-1). Frank Ntilikina added 17 points, Allonzo Trier scored 15 and second-round pick Mitchell Robinson — who signed a multiyear contract Sunday — had 12 points and 11 rebounds.
MAGIC 86, GRIZZLIES 56
Jonathan Isaac, the No. 6 overall selection last year, had 12 points, seven rebounds and five blocks, and Mo Bamba — this year’s sixth overall pick — added 11 points for the Magic (2-0). Orlando held the Grizzlies (1-1) to 25 first-half points. Kobi Simmons had 15 points for Memphis, which shot 26.2 percent from the field. No. 4 pick Jaren Jackson Jr. finished with five points on 1-of-9 shooting.
CLIPPERS 88, KINGS 78
Sindarius Thornwell had 22 points and No. 11 selection Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 21 for the Clippers (1-1). Los Angeles rallied to take the lead late in the third quarter and closed out the game on a 6-0 run. Jawun Evans added 10 points. Justin Jackson scored 28 points to lead the Kings (0-2) and Frank Mason scored 12.
LAKERS 69, BULLS 60
Josh Hart had 19 points, Svi Mykhailiuk added 15 points and first-round pick Moe Wagner had eight points and 14 rebounds for the Lakers (2-0). Matt Williams Jr. had 12 points for the Bulls (1-1). No. 7 pick Wendell Carter Jr. had an injury scare in the middle of the third quarter, but returned and finished with nine points, seven rebounds and four blocks.