Bill Walker, one of this past season’s pleasant revelations, said he
believes one of the reasons for the Knicks’ 29-53 record was a lack of
leadership in the locker room.
Walker, who came over from the Celtics in the Nate Robinson trade on
Feb. 18, told The Post it was jarring to see none of the veterans step
up in the leadership department after he spent two seasons in Boston
with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.
The 6-foot-6 Walker is expected to be part of the Knicks’ future. The swingman’s contract for next season becomes guaranteed on Aug. 1, and he likely is a keeper unless they need an extra $800,000 in cap space. The Knicks must round out their roster with minimum-wage players if they are to fit one or two superstars under the salary cap.
"What I can tell from over there [in Boston], KG, Paul and Ray take the initiative every day," Walker said. "You just had guys be more accountable for everything. That’s where it starts. The head coach can only say so much. You have to have guys in the locker room take what the coach says and make sure it gets applied. There weren’t enough leaders in the locker room."
Walker’s remark underscores the notion that the Knicks were doomed from the start because they had a slew of veterans with expiring contracts who knew they were not part of the team’s plans for next season. Walker is — astoundingly so.
"I’m definitely excited to be part of the conversation," Walker said, "to be part of a group of guys to come in and change the attitude around here."
When the trade was made in February, the coaching staff considered Walker, as one assistant coach put it, "an afterthought." But his athletic game, improved perimeter shot and good character excited coach Mike D’Antoni.
Walker averaged 11.9 points on 51.8-percent shooting, including 43-percent on 3-pointers.
"It’s definitely a good thing to hear," Walker said about being mentioned as part of next season’s squad. "I feel like this was really my rookie season. And I made up ground quick. I look forward to the offseason, rounding out my game, getting a lot better and having a breakout campaign."
Walker, whose stock dropped because of two knee surgeries, including one in high school, was a second-round pick of the Celtics out of Kansas State in 2008 and played just 37 games in two seasons in Boston.
Walker likely will play for the Knicks summer league team in Las Vegas in July.