What happens if Lonnie Walker signs offer sheet elsewhere?
By Josh Paredes
He may have had an inconsistent shooting year with the San Antonio Spurs, but don't be surprised if a team signs Lonnie Walker to an offer sheet this summer.
Still just 23 years old, Walker has shown flashes he could be a microwave scorer for a contender and provide a real spark off the bench when he's on. Unfortunately, his inconsistency has rightfully led to doubts he'll end up returning to San Antonio for a fifth season, especially since letting him walk would free up over $13 million in cap space.
Negotiations with free agents can officially begin at 6 p.m. ET on June 30th, one week after the Spurs will have made some moves at the NBA Draft. The next day, July 1st, restricted free agents like Walker can sign an offer sheet with another team.
What happens if Lonnie Walker signs an offer sheet?
Normally, the Spurs would have a two-day period to match the offer before it becomes an official contract, but this is where the NBA's moratorium period comes into play. Technically, teams can negotiate and agree to contracts starting July 1st but can't make those deals official until July 6th at 12:01 p.m. ET.
If Lonnie signs an offer sheet during that moratorium period, that two-day clock doesn't begin ticking until July 6th, meaning the Spurs would have to match by July 8th if they wanted to retain Walker. If that deadline expires, he goes to his new team.
Could Lonnie Walker be traded?
In a recent Spurscast episode for Project Spurs, Paul Garcia looked at the possibilities with Walker this summer.
"He can't just immediately be traded," said Garcia. "He's not on the roster at this point. The only way Lonnie can be traded is if the Spurs, Lonnie, and whatever team wants Lonnie -- if all three parties reach a sign-and-trade agreement. This can't occur until after July 6th."
As Garcia points out, the Spurs recently did a similar deal with DeMar DeRozan to ensure they'd get something back for him. They also reached a sign-and-trade agreement with the Indiana Pacers when they acquired Doug McDermott.
As Garcia continues, if Lonnie does sign an offer sheet after July 1st, he then becomes ineligible to be traded. At that point, he'd either be going to the new team or return to San Antonio upon a match.
The NBA Draft could hint at where the Spurs are leaning toward when it comes to Walker, as the selection of someone that plays a similar role could indicate he'll be moved. In less than a month, we should start getting a clearer picture of what the front office intends to do.