2:53pm: Updating his earlier report, Stein indicates that Boston is no longer a “stealth” suitor for Walker, tweeting that the Celtics and Mavericks will be at the front of the line for Kemba when free agency begins.
12:03pm: With the Celtics‘ roster and cap situation in a state of flux, the team is emerging as a “stealth suitor” for All-NBA point guard Kemba Walker, reports Marc Stein of The New York Times (via Twitter).
The Celtics’ situation is a fluid one, according to Stein (via Twitter), who acknowledges that the team will weigh a number of options to address both its backcourt and frontcourt. Kyrie Irving and Al Horford are expected to sign elsewhere and Aron Baynes is heading to Phoenix, while Terry Rozier and Marcus Morris are also free agents.
If the Celtics renounce all those players, they should have enough cap room to make a maximum-salary offer to a player like Walker, adding him to a core that features Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart. However, it sounds like that’s just one of the options that president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will consider.
The Mavericks and Lakers are among the teams believed to be eyeing Walker, who has also been frequently linked to the Knicks. For his part, Kemba has said that the Hornets remain his first priority and has indicated he’s open to accepting less than the super-max to return to Charlotte.
That super-max deal would be worth a projected $221MM+ over five years. A standard max with the Hornets projects to be worth just shy of $190MM over five seasons, while a rival suitor could offer Walker up to about $141MM for four years.