NBA AM: What’s Next For Antoine Walker?
What’s Next For Antoine Walker? Former NBA player Antoine Walker earned more than $100 million in salary throughout the course of his NBA career. Walker gambled away a large chunk of that, gave a lot of it to friends and family and made bad business investments. In 2009, he filed for bankruptcy, citing more than $12.5 million in debts and less than $4 million in assets, which included homes with mortgages far greater than their value.
Walker spent last week at adidas Nations, a week-long skills development tournament. Walker was a guest of the brand that he once endorsed as “Employee #8.” Adidas asked him to speak to the high school and college players invited to Long Beach about the challenges that lie ahead for them and the seriousness of the choices they are each going to have to make.
Walker talked with HOOPSWORLD about where he finds himself these days and what lies ahead:
Are The Lakers Maxed Out? The Los Angeles Lakers are now looking at a payroll just shy of $100 million – $99.931 million if you are keeping track at home – which includes the $1.054 million qualifying offer that Devin Ebanks is expected to sign today.
Once Ebanks inks his deal, the Lakers will have 14 contracts on the books, with Andrew Goudelock being the only player on a non-guaranteed deal.
Jodie Meeks agreed to a two-year deal worth just shy of $3 million, which includes a team option worth $1.515 million on the second year.
The Lakers still have their two second-round draft picks in Darius Johnson-Odom and Robert Sacre as well as several possible camp invites, all fighting for what could be a single roster spot, unless the Lakers unload a player in trade or cut Goudelock.
Los Angeles has been linked to Kenyon Martin, who finished the 2011-12 season with the L.A. Clippers. However, with only one roster spot left and virtually no real money to offer, the Lakers are likely finished with their significant moves.
The Lakers do have $1.64 million remaining on their mini-mid-level cap exception, but with what’s looking like a $29 million luxury tax bill, using that exception becomes expensive as every dollar spent will be taxed.
What Did The Lockout Accomplish? With Dwight Howard and Steve Nash both on the Lakers, with Los Angeles’ favorite team clocking in a payroll worth almost $100 million and with Brook Lopez banking $61 million while still injured, it makes you wonder what last offseason’s labor fight really solved.
First, shame on the parties involved for not addressing the franchise player problem. Not only did the sides not shore up the need to give the home team advantages in keeping their own players, they actually made it worse with how contract extensions work. That one is almost inconceivable.
Second, before you go nuts on what teams spend, keep in mind teams have to spend. There is a minimum salary teams need to carry and with shorter contracts, the risk on some of the deals that got done are not nearly as bad as they once were.
Take Nic Batum and his $46 million offer sheet that the Portland Trail Blazers matched. That’s a four-year deal. Under the old CBA, that’s likely a five year deal; the same with Roy Hibbert’s max offer. The new CBA and restricted free agency saved the Pacers a fifth year likely worth more than $16 million.
That’s still crazy money for non-marquee guys, but the system says you need to spend and with the deals being a little shorter, a lot of teams bought at the prices the market set. It’s still lunacy, but the NBA maintained through the labor fight that how teams spent money was up to those teams and that the fight was about reducing the total share given to the players, not how individual teams spend.
But what about the parity the NBA preached? What about the level playing field?
That clearly didn’t happen.
The Lakers have a payroll more than twice that of the Cleveland Cavaliers – L.A. has spent $99.931 million versus the Cavs’ $46.883 million. The Miami HEAT have $82.653 million in commitments, or $35.7 million more than the lowest committed team in the league.
Not sure much parity was achieved.
So what was really gained in last season’s work stoppage?
The middle class in the NBA has been hammered. Players that were signing multi-year deals two seasons ago are finding no love in free agency. Players like Jodie Meeks, who was one of the most prolific shooters in the game last season, inked a $1.4 million deal.
C.J. Watson, who started 25 games last season for the Chicago Bulls, found his best offer to be the NBA minimum with the Brooklyn Nets.
Leandro Barbosa and Carlos Delfino still have not found multi-year offers and with no real free agent money left, they may find their best offers to be with the teams they played with last season at greatly reduced rates because there is no market competing for them.
The NBA may have sold that losing games last year was about change, but if you look at the landscape this year, the power teams still spent more than the non-power teams. Free agents still flocked to the major markets and the middle class got hosed.
The share of the pie may have changed in the owners’ favor, but the end result didn’t change. The NBA game is still about four or five teams that have a real shot at the title and then there is the rest of the league that’s hoping you’ll buy tickets to see those five teams crush them.
Everyone in NBA circles believes that in 2013 when the harsher luxury tax kicks in and the top earning teams have to contribute to revenue sharing that things will change, but looking at how things played out this summer, it’s hard to imagine that it’s going to.
More Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @AlexKennedyNBA, @TheRocketGuy, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @alexraskinNYC, @SusanBible, @DPageHoopsWorld , @stevesraptors, @TommyBeer and @YannisHW.
NBA Chats: There are three NBA chats scheduled for today starting with HOOPSWORLD’s Bill Ingram at 11 a.m EST. Bill’s chats do fill up fast so getting in early is always wise. HOOPSWORLD’s Stephen Brotherston returns to hold down his weekly chat at 3 p.m. EST. You can always find the next NBA chat here. If you are looking for previous chats, click here.