Nets' Lonnie Walker IV tries to get past Milwaukee Bucks'...

Nets' Lonnie Walker IV tries to get past Milwaukee Bucks' Pat Connaughton during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, March 21, 2024, in Milwaukee. Credit: AP/Morry Gash

For Lonnie Walker IV, positivity is as much a part of his aura as being a spark off the bench. His Nets teammates have gotten used to him greeting them with “great morning” instead of “good morning.”

Perhaps that’s why his postgame mood Saturday stood out. He sat quietly at his locker after the Nets’ loss to the Knicks. Walker took longer to shower than usual and was among the last players to leave.

It brought to mind that Walker’s minutes have dropped since the All-Star break. He went from averaging 18.1 minutes before the break to 16.1 afterward. Over the last seven games since returning from illness, he’s averaged just 12.2 minutes.

The move has been surprising given his ability to score off the bench. But in Milwaukee last week, Walker said he wasn’t bothered by the change.

“At the end of the day, it’s a team sport. It’s all about winning,” Walker told Newsday. “Just trying to find ways to be better. Being on the bench, bringing energy on the bench or trying to bring energy on the court. Just leave it all to God.”

Saturday was his best game since his return. Walker had nine points after scoring two Thursday against the Bucks. But Walker’s minutes have dropped as the season winds down.

It’s also surprising since he’s one of the best shot creators on a team lacking consistency on offense. Interim coach Kevin Ollie wasn’t specific on the matter when asked last week.

“We look at everything in totality . . . it’s just not points,” Ollie said last Tuesday. “We want guys that come in here and play with energy and [Walker] does that most of the time. But hopefully he can just take care of his minutes and it’s on him to make me play him more.”

The change hasn’t stopped the Nets’ bleeding during a season-high six-game losing streak. Walker has been supportive from the bench and privately leaned on his faith to stay balanced.

He’s also used to changes in playing time, whether it was losing his starting spot last season with the Lakers after injury or not playing in the Nets’ season opener this year.

“I don’t think it negatively affects me. You might have your ups and downs, your days where you might not feel as much,” Walker said. “But for the most part, I got a great family around me that really supports me and I understand that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”

Where that tunnel leads remains to be seen. Walker is a free agent after the season and he’ll likely look for a longer contract after being on the league minimum.

He’s not thinking that far ahead, but he knows other teams are watching him besides the Nets. So although his playing time has wavered, his attitude hasn’t as he stays ready if he’s needed to play longer.

Even in a tough situation, Walker continues to lean on the positive and trusts it will work out.

“It’s all about growth. I think that’s something that I’m trying to accomplish,” Walker said. “I haven’t reached my prime yet, in my opinion. So just trying to reach that moment and continue to get those building blocks.”

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