Thu. Dec 1st, 2022
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Lakers must do everything possible to keep Lonnie Walker beyond just this season because he looks great

Welcome to Layup Lines, our basketball newsletter where we’ll prep you for the tip-off of tonight’s action, from what to watch to bets to make. Subscribe here to get it delivered to your inbox.

The Lakers are having an absolutely abysmal season, but it looks like they may have struck gold in free agency by signing Lonnie Walker.

Walker is averaging a career-high 16.5 points per game, which is more than anyone else on the Lakers except for LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The 23-year-old wing is shooting 55.2 percent on 3-pointers over the course of his last six games.

No one on the Lakers has connected on more shots from beyond the arc than Walker has so far this season. He looks good in the pick-and-roll, and he’s not turning the ball over very often.

All things considered, at a salary of $6.5 million, he looks like a good pick-up for Los Angeles! These are the kinds of moves around the edges that the front office has to make in order to stay competitive.

But it is all for naught if Walker, who was a first-round draft pick in 2018, rehabilitates his value with the Lakers only to leave in free agency during the offseason. That is what happened with Malik Monk last season, and it would be disastrous to let something similar occur once more.

As noted by CBS Sports’ Sam Quinn, the Lakers can offer Walker a starting salary of $9.7 million during the offseason. That means another team would have to extend the full mid-level exception to beat that offer.

Because they traded so much youth and draft collateral to land Davis and Westbrook, the Lakers are fairly thin in the department of young talent. They clearly have found something with Walker, and they need to keep him around to develop a core group to maintain some consistency and continuity.

The Lakers have been like a revolving door for the past few seasons, and it would go a long way for them to keep someone like Walker around for the fans to latch onto and believe in as their own.

The Tip-Off

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Some NBA goodness from around the USA TODAY Sports network.

For The Win’s Charles Curtis wants to discuss the trending meme about LeBron James:

“It was the story that had NBA fans calling out LeBron James for what they thought was very much a lie: The Los Angeles Lakers superstar said that he had been listening to Migos back in 2010 … but their mixtape dropped in 2011.

That’s the same LeBron James who said he predicted Kobe Bryant was going to go off for 70 points on the night he scored 81, just one of the many times fans have noticed his embellishments.

Now, there’s a meme I’ve seen everywhere on Twitter, particularly this weekend — using a screengrab from that infamous moment he said he predicted the big Kobe game and fake-quoting James.”

These white lies never really hurt anybody, did they?

One To Watch

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

(All odds via Tipico.)

Bucks (-175, -4.5) vs. Hawks (+140), O/U 224.5, 8:00 PM ET

Trae Young isn’t having the best start to the season, but the Hawks and Bucks are two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. Giannis Antetokounmpo is having an MVP-caliber season, and this one is worth watching.

Shootaround

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

— Joel Embiid was so dominant that Tyrese Maxey overrode Doc Rivers’ play call to help the big man score more

— Stephen Curry was hilariously hyped after nailing a pregame trick shot

— Blake Griffin has extended his NBA career by…avoiding microwaves?

— HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto shares the latest intel on PJ Washington, Grant Williams, and more

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