Community Shootaround: Kemba Walker’s Future

Although he was the subject of several trade rumors leading up to last month’s deadline, Kemba Walker remained in Charlotte. With the Hornets set to land in the lottery this spring though, the Walker rumor mill figures to be revived in the coming months.

Longtime Hornets general manager Rich Cho is no longer in the picture in Charlotte, as the team is set to hire a new head of basketball operations at season’s end. That new general manager will inherit a cap sheet packed with expensive multiyear contracts, with Walker’s $12MM expiring deal easily representing the most valuable trade chip on the Hornets’ roster. Tasked with turning the franchise into a contender, the new GM could decide that moving Walker is the best way to accelerate a necessary rebuilding process.

It’s also worth considering how Walker’s latest comments differ in tone from his initial response to trade rumors back in January. At the time, the star point guard said he’d be “pretty upset” to be dealt, and talked extensively about having spent his whole career in Charlotte. Two months later, Walker’s fondness for the city likely hasn’t changed, but he sounds more pragmatic about his situation.

Earlier this month, for instance, Walker admitted that he’s not sure he has the stomach to go through another rebuilding process, noting that “nobody wants to lose.” More recently, the 27-year-old acknowledged that he’s getting tired of missing the playoffs, suggesting that winning will be his top priority going forward — including when he has to make a free agency decision in 2019.

The Hornets could certainly retool around Walker and attempt to make a playoff push in 2018/19 before eventually looking to re-sign him in 2019. However, a trade looks like a viable possibility too. In his latest piece for The Ringer, Kevin O’Connor took a closer look at the situation, identifying the Cavaliers, Bucks, Suns, and Knicks as a few teams that could make sense as trade partners if the Hornets want to deal.

What do you think the Hornets should – and will – do with Walker? Would it be misguided to move the team’s only star, or would it ultimately be the best long-term move for the organization? If the Hornets do trade Walker, do you think one of the clubs mentioned by O’Connor would be the best destination for him, or is there another team you view as an ideal fit?

Jump into the comment section below to share your thoughts!

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15 thoughts on “Community Shootaround: Kemba Walker’s Future

  1. acarneglia

    They have to dump the big salaries being paid to guys like Batum and Marvin Williams. They have over 35 million dollars committed to them for next season. They also need to decide their starting center. Do you keep the younger, cheaper, injury prone Cody Zeller as your starting center(a role he has played well in in 2017) or do you keep Dwight with Cody as the backup, or do you ditch Zeller and his expensive salary completely, or move Dwight. Then you need to address the backup PG. Is Malik Monk the future as the backup PG or could you talk someone like IT into a cheaper deal coming off a down year if you clear salaries. Then you need to address Steve Clifford’s future as the HC. Walker wants to be here, he’s just struggling to find a reason to stay here.

  2. camdenyards46

    The Hornets have no future as is. They have all of their cap space locked up in players such as Batum, Williams, etc. They should do a complete tear down. Anyone they can trade, they should, with the exception of Monk. Speaking of Monk, he needs more playing time. They should probably fire Clifford, as he is not a developmental coach. I could see a Kemba deal to the Cavs for the Brooklyn pick and a salary match, maybe JR Smith or George Hill.

      • Thomas Swanson

        The Cavs offered a package at the trade deadline including J.R. Smith for Walker and one of the players you were talking about. The Hornets said they only wanted to trade Walker if someone took on a bad contract and they don’t want to take any big salaries in return. Walker only wants to go to a winner. Absolutely no way the Cavs trade the Brooklyn pick. I think they want to groom Kevin Porter Jr. to take LeBron’s place. Makes sense.

  3. Z-A

    Overpaid role players. This is what Portland did, they’re in cap hell too. Harkless, Turner, Crabbe (traded), Leonard. Walker is a FA when Dwight’s contract ends. So you can afford to pay Walker.

  4. Difference between Charlotte and Portland is at least the Blazers are winning with that group of bloated deals.

    If Walker doesn’t want another rebuild, New York and Phoenix are probably out as he would be unlikely to re-sign in either town. For the Hornets to move him, another bad contract is going to be included, so either a team with cap space, or an expiring deal(s) and draft/young assets will be the spot. If Austin Rivers opts in, why not Rivers, Boban, Beverley, one of their two 1st’s this year and another future 1st for Walker and Zeller. All three Clips coming over are expiring, which takes Cody’s extra year off their books, and they land 2 1st’s.

    Could send the same two players to Utah for Rubio, Burks, 2018 1st and another future 1st.

    Same two to the Pacers for Collison, Jefferson, Lance, Leaf, 2018 1st and a future 1st.

    Both teams can make the future 1st protected, and everyone of the contracts in these deals are expiring next year other than Leaf’s, who could be a quality young asset.

      • Thomas Swanson

        No worry. Pacers have said they will only go over the cap if they get guarantee of going deep into the playoffs. Kemba would do it. Pacers owner doesn’t like to go over the cap. I’m 100% sure Kemba won’t be with the Pacers!!!!

  5. Thomas Swanson

    Pacers don’t want Walker. Westbrook and Oladipo didn’t work. Oladipo is most improved player in NBA history.
    Portland has one of the best backcourts in the NBA. I’d imagine Charlotte wished they had Portland’s backcourt. A lot of other teams too.

    • Thomas Swanson

      Pacers tried to trade for C.J. McCollum when he was Wes Matthews backup. Portland wouldn’t trade him then either. Kevin Pritchard said last summer the Pacers want cheap salaries on other teams for players that didn’t work out, but have talent. Oladipo ($22 million though), Sabonis, and Collison. Thy got Corey Joseph because they had wanted him for some time. Washington couldn’t afford Bogdonovich. The Pacers tried to trade Al Jefferson to Brooklyn for Demarre Carroll. Six players got together and asked Pritchard not to make any trades. They said all they are looking for is shooters, and everyone else is too.

      • Thomas Swanson

        The way OKC is playing, I don’t see PG13 staying (Lakers. Read Lakers can’t offer both PG13 and LeBron max offers). That would mean OKC traded Oladipo and Sabonis for nothing.. Those are the kind of trades the Pacers like.

  6. x%sure

    “Too many expensive contracts” is not why they underperformed. There must be a reason or reasons (IDK). If nobody knows then fire the coach. But don’t trade anyone if they’re not at fault!

    In theory Batum balances out the singular Walker, and Williams is shooting well. Howard had a good year and Zeller did last year and neither would be worth much anyway.
    If GMs still believe in Monk then trade him… he’s not as good as others picked around him.

  7. Dionis

    The Hornets are a mess, figure out the center going forward whether it’s Dwight or are they going to see if Willy can be the center. The MKG project has ran its course, no star potential there and Clifford needs to go because Monk is getting no playing time just because Cliff wanted to use him a play maker. I really don’t see where Walker would be a perfect fit and whose going to be offering him a franchise guard role when free agency comes around.

  8. Z-A

    The Suns make sense because they have draft capital. 2 extra picks 15 & 16 currently. The rest does not, they can’t take on a major salary b/c they don’t have anything to match really. Unless 1 non-lottery pick + Chandler + Dudley + Bender entices you for Walker & Williams/MKG.

    Knicks make no sense too – nothing to trade back.

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