Antoine Walker Signs With D-League, Set to Join Idaho Stampede
The Idaho Stampede, the only winless team in the D-League with an 0-4 record, are expected to use their top choice in the waiver claim preference order to claim Walker, which they received after having the last pick in November's D-League Draft.
Walker's expected signing with the D-League was first reported by FanHouse Sunday, though his contract only now becomes official.
Walker averaged 17.5 points and 7.7 rebounds over the course of his NBA career that began after becoming the sixth overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft, but he wasn't able to earn an NBA training camp invite with the Charlotte Bobcats earlier this year after showing up to practice with them in September.
While it isn't surprising that Walker wasn't able to earn a training camp invite amid their glut of tweener forwards, ESPN's Marc Stein reported at the time that Walker was in very good shape, that multiple witnesses who had seen Walker playing and working out with famed trainer Tim Grover in Chicago said "that Walker looks as fit as he has for some time."
Walker will have plenty of company in former NBA players trying to get back to the NBA through the D-League with the Stampede. Luke Jackson, the 10th overall pick in the 2004 draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers will man one wing while Salim Stoudamire, the 31st pick of the 2005 NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks, will be on the other wing. Point guard Dontell Jefferson, who was recently acquired via trade, spent the end of the 2008-09 season with the Charlotte Bobcats.
Walker will also have familiar company on a coaching staff that includes former NBA players Randy Livingston and Greg Minor. Livingston, the first-year head coach for the Stampede, was picked 36 spots after Walker in 1996, while Minor and Walker played three seasons together -- from 1996-97 through 1998-99 -- as members of the Boston Celtics.
If Walker's able to show that he's still able to do what he could a few years ago -- knock down shots, make heady passes and bring veteran leadership -- an NBA team will probably come calling quick to give him an NBA call-up. If not, sources told FanHouse that Walker accepted less than the maximum D-League contract, perhaps so that he's able to buy out of it for less money in case a lucrative European deal is put on the table prior to the end of the season.
The 34-year-old Walker will not be the oldest player playing in the NBA Development League. That "honor" currently is held by Antonio Daniels, the fourth pick in the 1997 NBA Draft. Daniels plays for the Texas Legends and is averaging 15.5 points, 8.0 assists and 7.0 rebounds while working toward an NBA comeback himself.