Riley: Walker's weight still topic of concern for Miami
MIAMI -- Antoine Walker's level of conditioning is still a concern for the Miami Heat, and coach Pat Riley predicted Wednesday it may take the forward until January to meet his team-mandated body fat level.
The issue has been a thorny one for Walker and Riley for the past two seasons. Walker was briefly suspended by Riley last season over body fat measurements and was kept out of the opening day of training camp practice this year for the same reason.
And although Riley is a stickler for fitness, he insisted Walker isn't in the team doghouse, either.
"He's a hard worker. He works every day," Riley said. "He comes to practice every day. Doesn't miss any practices. He's never missed any games. ... He doesn't miss anything. The question is that I'm trying to get him in optimum condition."
And in this case, Riley would define "optimum" as 235 pounds with 7 percent body fat. Riley estimated that Walker weighed 262 pounds with 15 percent body fat at the start of camp and has been slowed by a sore Achilles tendon for the past week.
"I just know that he can't sustain a practice of ours ... that's why his Achilles goes on him," Riley said. "To me, it's the overall conditioning and conditioning the right way."
Walker had four points, three rebounds and three assists in Miami's 106-100 exhibition loss to the Atlanta Hawks in overtime on Wednesday night.
After the game, Walker -- who was robbed at gunpoint in his Chicago home during the summer and admittedly didn't have an easy offseason in the aftermath of that -- said his conditioning will be fine in time for the regular-season opener against Detroit on Nov. 1.
"My Achilles is holding me back," he said. "We'll see when the time comes. Just got to play ball. Until then, it's October. I'll just keep working to get better and get in the best shape possible for Nov. 1. I'll be ready to go Nov. 1."
Walker played a key role in Miami's run to the 2006 NBA championship and is entering his third season with the Heat. He averaged career lows in scoring (8.5 points) and minutes (23.3) last season, but Riley believes he can still be a solid member of the Heat's rotation.
"We need him," Riley said. "We need his offense, his versatility and stuff, and what I have to do is I have to swallow my pride, my coaching pride here and not just sort of cut off my nose to spite my face."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press