HEAT Sign Free Agent Forward Samaki Walker
The Miami HEAT announced August 1 that free agent forward Samaki Walker has signed a contract with the team. Per team policy, terms of the contract were not released.
Walker, a seven-year NBA veteran played in 67 games last season with the Los Angeles Lakers with 39 starts. He averaged 4.4 points, 5.5 rebounds and 0.82 blocked shots, while shooting 42 percent from the field. He was acquired by the Lakers following the 2000-01 season from the San Antonio Spurs and appeared in 136 games with 102 starts in two seasons. During the Lakers last Championship run in 2002, Walker, who started at power-forward along side center Shaquille ONeal averaged 6.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.28 blocked shots. He shot over 50 percent from the field during the regular season and 66 percent from the free-throw line. He also appeared in each of the Lakers 19 postseason games that year, averaging 3.3 points and 4.1 rebounds in 12.6 minutes. He recorded postseason highs in points (12) and rebounds (nine) versus his former team, the Spurs on May 5, 2001.
We are very excited to bring in a player of Walkers experience, said HEAT President and General Manager of Basketball Operations Randy Pfund. He is only 27-years-old and has already competed on the highest stage, as a member of the Lakers Championship team. He has good overall offensive skills with a tremendous upside.
Pfund added that Walker would be a valuable addition to the HEATs front line. He is a very good rebounder and he can play both the forward and center position.
Walker, who left college following his sophomore season at Louisville was taken by the Dallas Mavericks in the first round (ninth overall) of the 1996 NBA Draft. In his rookie season, Walker became the youngest-ever Maverick to appear in a regular season game. After just three seasons in Dallas, Walker signed a free agent deal with the San Antonio Spurs for the 1999-00 and 2000-01 seasons respectively. As a member of the Spurs, Walker averaged 5.0 points and 3.1 rebounds. Over his career, Walker has appeared in 391 NBA games with career averages of 5.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 0.76 blocked shots. His best career regular season came in his second season with the Mavericks (1997-98), where he averaged 8.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.0 blocked shots while shooting 48 percent from the field.
A standout performer at Louisville, Walker averaged 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.42 blocked shots in just 50 games played. He was named Metro Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year in 1995 and recorded the only triple-double in Louisville history as a freshman recording 14 points, 10 rebounds and a school record 11 blocked shot versus Kentucky (1/1/95). He also played for the USA Team in the 1995 Junior World Championships in Greece.
Samaki Ijuma Walker is the youngest of seven children. In Swahili, Samaki means fish and ljuma means beautiful river.