NBA

Lakers reach deals with Walker, Jones, 2 others

LOS ANGELES — The Lakers opened up free agency Thursday with a flurry of moves aimed at getting younger, more athletic and defensive minded in a clear divergence from their roster building a year ago that added big-name veterans and led to one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history.

L.A. signed Lonnie Walker IV to a one-year deal worth $6.5 million, using its taxpayer midlevel exception, his agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, confirmed to ESPN.

The Lakers also agreed to a trio of veterans minimum signings.

Center Damian Jones, who played eight games for L.A. during the 2020-21 season, signed a two-year contract with a player option on the second year, his agent, Austin Brown of CAA Basketball, told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Troy Brown Jr., a 6-foot-6 wing with a 6-10 reach, agreed to a one-year deal, a team source confirmed to ESPN.

And Juan Toscano-Anderson also agreed to a one-year deal, his agent, Erika Ruiz of Klutch Sports, confirmed to ESPN’s Kendra Andrews.

L.A. initially offered Malik Monk the taxpayer midlevel exception before turning its attention to Walker after Monk agreed to the full midlevel exception on a two-year, $19 million deal with the Kings, sources told ESPN.

Walker, 23, spent the past four seasons with the San Antonio Spurs after they drafted him with the No. 18 pick in 2018. He averaged 12.1 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists last season while shooting only 31.4% from 3, but he proved in 2019-20 he can connect from the outside when he shot 40.6% from deep, albeit on fewer attempts.

San Antonio did not extend Walker a qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent, allowing him to hit the market.

Jones, 27, averaged 8.1 points on 65.8% shooting and 4.4 rebounds for the Sacramento Kings last season.

During his stint with L.A. two seasons ago, when he signed a pair of 10-day contracts while the Lakers were dealing with injuries, he averaged 5.4 points on an impressive 94.1% from the field and 3.3 rebounds per game.

Brown, 22, averaged 4.3 points and 3.1 rebounds for the Chicago Bulls last season and was targeted to be a switchable defender in new coach Darvin Ham’s system, sources told ESPN.

Toscano-Anderson, 29, is coming off of a championship with the Golden State Warriors. He averaged 4.1 points on 48.9% shooting, 2.4 rebounds and 1.7 assists during the regular season but was used sparingly during the Warriors’ title run in the playoffs.

The Lakers’ next priority as the offseason unfolds is to address their outside shooting, sources told ESPN. L.A. ranked 22nd in the league in 3-point shooting last season, hitting just 34.7% of its team attempts.


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