MIAMI (AP) -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 was not available for comment before the Heat played the Atlanta Hawks in an exhibition game Wednesday night. He was in uniform and expected to play.
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.''

Top NBA Public Bets

NBA Top Stories

Thumbnail Bulls vs. Pistons Prediction Will the Chicago Bulls be able to bounce back when they face the Detroit Pistons tonight at 7:30PM ET?
Thumbnail Curry's squad won't be denied from deep Coming off perhaps their most robust offensive performance of the season, the Warriors are itching to return to the court tonight. But can the re-energized...
Thumbnail Spurs vs. Bucks Prediction Will the Spurs cover as a road favorite when they visit the Bucks at 8:00PM ET tonight?
Thumbnail Blazers vs. Bulls Pick Can the Chicago Bulls stay tough at home when they host the Portland Trail Blazers tonight at 8PM ET?
Thumbnail Davis aims to lift visitors to victory Anthony Davis has a league-leading 599 points through 19 games. Still, even his Herculean efforts seemingly aren’t enough to pull the Pelicans out of the...

NBA Team Pages