Aug 23, 2010, 9:40 AM EDT
Give Antoine Walker credit — he’s trying.
He has spent this summer working out at the University of Louisville under the watchful eye of Rick Pitino. Maybe at the same time he has learned his lessons about life, having had to file bankruptcy and now working to pay back the $1 million a judge said this summer he must pay some Las Vegas casinos.
And his family believes in him. We all need that. Chico Walker, Antoine’s uncle and a former Red Sox player, talked to WEEI on Red Sox alumni weekend about his famous nephew (via Real GM).
Chico estimates Antoine has dropped between 18 and 25 pounds as he continues to improve his conditioning under Pitino’s watch. “Four to six” teams, he said, have already expressed interest in the forward, who is fighting to land an NBA roster spot for the first time since 2008 when he received a buyout from the Grizzlies.
If that is true, if a team is going to give him a make-good deal for training camp — and that’s a huge if, his presence would be a big story and potential distraction during camp — he’ll have a hard time making a team. Those end-of-the-bench spots usually go to young players a tea thinks it can develop. The only reason to have a 34-year-old forward on the team is because he can contribute.
There are doubts Walker can do that. Remember he was let go from a contract last season in the Puerto Rican league after just eight games. He averaged 12.1 points per game on 41 percent shooting and 22 percent from three. Putting up those numbers in Puerto Rico suggest he is a long way from the NBA. A summer of workouts may well not change that.
But he’s trying. Hopefully he has turned his life around. However, the NBA is a cutthroat business and it’s going to be very hard for Walker to play his way back in.
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