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11.13.2008

ML Making Antoine Earn his Minutes

Antoine Walker's Rookie Campaign
12/16/96

There will be many days this season when Antoine Walker doesn't agree with M.L. Carr's decisions. The coach knows that. There will be times, such as Friday's loss at Indianapolis, when Walker plays only 16 minutes and heads to the bench with a look ofdisbelief when he is taken out of the game.

"I know he's displeased with me sometimes," Carr said before last night's game against the Pistons at The Palace. "But in the final analysis, I think he's going to appreciate what we're doing with him right now."

What they are doing is interpreting a phrase ("bring along slowly") literally. On some nights he could play as many as 35 minutes. There could be more 16-minute nights, too. Carr says all of this is being done in the spirit of giving Walker a diverse range of experience.

Carr is correct when he says Walker may not appreciate what's happening now. He doesn't. He wants to play. He played 27 minutes last night and had 16 points and a team-high nine rebounds (six offensive). A scout at the game wondered aloud why Carr isn't playing him more.

Walker said, "When I'm out there playing, I want to make the most of it. I just want to improve. I can't tell you why I'm not playing more; you have to ask the coach about that. He hasn't come to me personally and told me why my minutes are up and down. I don't specifically know what my role is. But I've got to stay positive. I can't think about that."

The fans hear that he is supposed to be a star. They hear that he is a 6-foot-9-inch forward who already has shown an ability to easily get past most players who guard him. They hear he is supposed to be an All-Star. So why not play him for 40 minutes each night and let him learn from his experience that way?

"There's a teaching process going on here," Carr said. "He's only 20 years old. Does he have talent? Yes. Should he be an All-Star player? Yes. But he's still in the embryonic stage of his career. He still has to earn it. Success wasn't given to Reggie (Lewis). It wasn't given to Larry (Bird). I don't think he wants it given to him."

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