Walsh In Familiar Territory

By DeAndré Phillips

Miami, 10/01 – It seems like déjà vu for Matt Walsh.

The third-year pro is in his second go around with the Miami HEAT. Walsh was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Florida in 2005. He appeared in two contests before being waived by the HEAT on November 18 , 2005.

Three seasons later, Walsh finds himself in very familiar territory. Back in 2005, the 6-foot-6 forward headed into training camp as a dark horse to make the team, competing against a plethora of swingmen that included James Posey, Shandon Anderson, Jason Kapono and Dorell Wright.

Now that he has rejoined the HEAT, a team also loaded with talented swingmen such as a much improved Wright, James Jones, Yakhouba Diawara, and four-time All-Star Shawn Marion, Walsh has to once again beat the odds to earn one of the 15 Opening Day roster spots. However, according to Walsh, he’s up to the challenge.

“I use that as motivation,” he said. “I look at that situation and if I continue to work hard, you never know.

“This team is looking for someone who can knock down shots,” he continued, “and that’s what I do.”

After leaving the HEAT, the sharp-shooting forward played in the NBDL and later signed with the New Jersey Nets in the 2006 preseason. However, they released him in October of that year. Walsh then traveled abroad, playing with Olympia Larissa BC in the Greek league during the 2006-07 season. For Olympia Larissa BC, Walsh came into his own, averaging 17.8 points per game and was considered one of the best players in the league.

Last year, he received an invite to play with the Cleveland Cavaliers Summer League team. After that, he went back overseas to join Ricoh Manresa of the Spanish ACB League before moving on to play in the Belgium league. Walsh feels those experiences has helped better prepare him for a longer stint with the HEAT.

“I’m three years older,” he said. “I’ve been playing pro now…this is my fourth year. I feel like I’m better all around – I’m bigger and stronger. I’m just more prepared coming in. I feel good. I feel better all the way around.”

Walsh spent his first training camp under then-HEAT Head Coach Stan Van Gundy. And despite having other training camp invites, the ex-Gator decided to rejoin the HEAT because of his comfort level with new head coach Erik Spoelstra.

“There’s a level of familiarity,” he said. “They know my game and that can be a good thing. They know what they’re getting with me. I will work harder than anyone. I will play as hard as I can. I’m going to make shots.

“Working with Coach Spoelstra has been great,” he continued. “He gives this team exactly what we need. Camp is upbeat and positive. I had a great experience playing with Coach Van Gundy, but this has been a great camp so far.”