- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 4, 2004

The Washington Wizards added another big veteran yesterday, signing eight-year veteran forward/center Samaki Walker.

Terms of the deal were not released. However, Walker, who spent most of last season on the injured list in Miami, is believed to have signed a one-year deal for slightly less than $1million.

“Samaki will provide our team with very good depth in the frontcourt,” Wizards president of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld said. “And perhaps the most important assets he brings to our team will be his veteran leadership and playoff experience, both of which will be very valuable to our young players.”

Last season in Miami, Walker appeared in just 33 games, averaging 3.2 points and 3.4 rebounds. He was hampered by shoulder and foot injuries.

The 6-foot-9, 260-pounder also drew interest from the Los Angeles Clippers, Minnesota and Cleveland. But Walker, 28, said he felt he fit best in Washington as both a mentor to the younger players and a contributor on the court.

“This is the best possible place for me as far as playing and being able to contribute veteran leadership,” he said. “I definitely believe this is a win-win situation for me and the team.”

Although Walker never has lived up to his selection as the ninth pick overall in the 1996 NBA Draft — he has career scoring and rebounding averages of 5.5 and 4.9, respectively — he has played for some good teams. Walker has appeared in 48 playoff games, and in 2002 he won a championship with the Los Angeles Lakers.

He posted his best numbers — 8.9 points and 7.4 rebounds — with Dallas during the 1997-98 season.



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