In that time, he had a decent night, putting up 12 points on 2-of-4 shooting from downtown. Still, it was new acquisition Josh Richardson that logged most of the backup minutes at shooting guard, matching Walker's 12 points in 32 minutes of his own.
It's unknown why Coach Popovich reduced Walker's minutes so noticeably, but there are a couple of valid reasons he might have. For one, Richardson has been on a tear since joining San Antonio on both ends of the floor, particularly with his outside shooting. Walker also made it known earlier in the week that he's been struggling with a back injury.
“At this point, I don’t think I will fully recover for the rest of the season,” Walker said. “It’s just something I’m going to have to deal with and be durable about it.”
Whether you feel like Lonnie's reduced time was warranted or not, it's clear he wasn't feeling great about it directly after the 113-103 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans.
Lonnie Walker likes, unlikes tweets about benching
A few hours after the game, Spurs fan @BalaPattySZN noticed some of Lonnie's likes on Twitter expressing his frustration with the situation.
"No way Lonnie Walker should've only played 9 first half minutes...He gave you instant offense," said one of the tweets. "Lonnie Walker IV should've gotten more minutes than 17," read another. Walker even liked a tweet that simply said, "Free Lonnie Walker."
I was on Twitter at the time to verify that Walker did actually like all these tweets because I had a feeling he'd unlike them before too long. He did, in fact, like all of the above tweets but then unliked them not long after.
My gut feeling is this was just Lonnie letting go of some frustrations during a highly emotional time. This team was on a mission to prove they had enough to make a run to the playoffs this season, and coming up short is tough. Still, it wasn't the best look, and he probably became aware of that pretty soon.
After the game, Walker spoke about his pending free agency:
Walker also told the media he'll be taking a vacation and won't be glued to his phone for a while.
There will be plenty of talk all summer about whether the Spurs should bring back Lonnie, and if so, how much that next contract should be.
For now, his decision to unplug and unwind for a while is deserved and probably for the best.