It’s not often that we see an All-Star player in a win-win free agency scenario. This summer Kawhi Leonard and Klay Thompson both fit the mold. Whether they stay with their current team or leave for “greener pastures”, they’ve done their job. Such is also the case for Charlotte Hornet All-Star Kemba Walker.
For his entire career, Kemba Walker has done nothing but give blood, sweat, and tears to the franchise. As durable as they come, he’s played at least 70 games in six out of his eight seasons in the league. Not to mention he played all 82 during the 2018-19 season.
Walker has the chance to choose his next destination as a free agent, and many in the basketball world would like to see him compete in high stakes playoff matchups. Despite Charlotte being unable to ever build a contender around him, he’s shown pure brilliance. He is one of only six players to average at least 25 points, five rebounds and one steal per game this past season. This paved the way for him to be the first and only All-NBA player in franchise history.
To what do you owe a franchise that you gave your all to? Loyalty? If that were the case, you’d think the organization would return the favor. However, the contract they allegedly offered was nowhere near his worth:
Per @stephenasmith, the #Hornets offered Kemba Walker 5 years and around $160 million, which is well shy of the supermax option, and he informed Charlotte he won’t be returning. #Celtics expected to sign the 3-time All-Star. pic.twitter.com/60BACPmUE6
— Adam Kaufman (@AdamMKaufman) June 27, 2019
Walker appears to be the perfect teammate. He’s elite at his position, he’s not polarizing, and he even said he would’ve taken less to help Charlotte build a better team around him:
Kemba's exact words when he was asked if he'd be willing to take less than the supermax to help the #Hornets build a team around him: "Yeah, why not? Yeah I would be. I would take less, yeah." pic.twitter.com/W9uv8Vhk0Z
— Rod Boone (@rodboone) June 13, 2019
With a slew of “bad” contracts, the Hornets are in a stranglehold as to what they can do. Nicolas Batum ($25.6M), Bismack Biyombo ($17M), Marvin Williams ($15M), Cody Zeller ($14.4M) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist ($13M) are among the underperforming eight-figure players still on the roster.
Maybe they can trade some expiring deals. However, it would take almost a complete re-build to be championship ready, with an aging Walker who turns 30 next year.
The Celtics have emerged as the front-runner to land the shifty guard. He would instantly be in prime position to compete in the playoffs and make some noise on a stage bigger than what he’s ever seen in Charlotte. Let’s not forget, this guy made big-time moves and big-time plays with high stakes in college; just ask Gary McGhee:
Entering his 9th season, Walker will be looking to get paid and to compete. Both Boston and Dallas have been mentioned as interested suitors of his services. And with LA just creating a max cap slot, anything is possible.