Massive financial problems put Antoine Walker back on the comeback trail last year, when the former Celtics star took his talents to Puerto Rico, playing for the Guaynabo Mets for $7,000 a month.
Now there is word he is trying to get back into the NBA. At the Red Sox Alumni Day gathering over the weekend, Walker’s uncle, former Sox infielder Chico Walker, spoke with WEEI. Chico Walker said Antoine has dropped 18 to 25 pounds and is working out with Rick Pitino, his coach at Kentucky and with the Celtics. Chico Walker said four to six teams were interested in his 34-year-old nephew, who last suited up in the NBA for Memphis in 2008.
But the first step is to earn an invite to someone’s training camp.
Walker played seven-plus seasons for the Celtics, three times earning NBA All-Star berths while forming a strong 1-2 punch with Paul Pierce. He earned an NBA title ring playing with the Miami Heat in 2005-06.
But after being waived in December 2008 by the Grizzlies without having played a regular-season game, Walker’s legal problems began. He was charged in January 2009 with drunk driving in Miami and was arrested in July of that year for writing bad checks worth $1 million at three Las Vegas casinos. The former Kentucky star, who earned more than $110 million in his NBA career, also was being pursued by a number of financial institutions for debts totaling more than $4 million.
He’s definitely looking to go into training camp, but he knows it’s not going to be a guaranteed contract He’s going to have to go in and make a team, and he understands that. That’s where he is in terms of his conditioning. He knows he has to go in there and earn a spot. Nothing’s going to be given to him regardless of what he’s done in the past.
I think the main concern is that this other stuff is going to follow him around. Is that going to be a deterring factor for a lot of teams? Hopefully not because basketball-wise, I still think he has a little bit to give to the game. But he has to go in and he has to show that. Nothing’s going to be given to him at this point.