By MARC BERMAN
Bill Walker, one of the season's pleasant revelations, said he believes one of the reasons for the Knicks' 29-53 final record was a lack of leadership in the locker room.
Walker, who came from Boston in the Nate Robinson trade on Feb. 18, told The Post it was jarring after spending two seasons in Boston with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen to see none of the Knicks veterans stepping up in the leadership department.
Walker is expected to be part of the Knicks future. His contract for next season becomes guaranteed Aug. 1 and he likely is a keeper unless they need an extra $800,000 in salary-cap space. The Knicks must round out important roster spots with minimum-wage players if they are to fit one or two superstars under the 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 makes sure it gets applied. There weren?t enough leaders in the locker room.''
Walker's remark underscores the notion the Knicks were doomed from the start because of a slew of veterans with expiring contracts who knew they weren't part of next season's plans. 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, the coaching staff considered Walker ? as one assistant coach said ? "an afterthought.'' But his athletic game, improved perimeter shot and good character excited Mike D'Antoni
Walker averaged 11.9 points on 51.8 percent shooting - 43 percent from downtown.
"It's definitely a good thing to hear,'' Walker said about being mentioned as part of next season. "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 in 2008 and played 37 games in two seasons in Boston.
Walker likely will play for the Knicks' summer league team in Las Vegas in July.
"I didn't expect anything,'' D'Antoni said. "I didn't know him. He shot the ball extremely well and was not afraid to take the big shot. We got a good feel for him.''
D'Antoni added Walker must drop weight for his speedball system.
"He's got to get his body right,'' D'Antoni said. "Because of knee injuries and all that, he has too much weight on him.''
[Only registered and activated users can see links. ]