Kemba Walker: Charlotte Is “First Priority” As Free Agency Approaches

The Hornets remain Kemba Walker‘s “first priority” in free agency, he tells Jared Weiss of The Athletic.

Walker will be among the most sought-after names on the market this summer after averaging a career-high 25.6 PPG and earning third-team All-NBA honors. That recognition qualifies him for a “super-max” contract and enables Charlotte to increase its five-year offer from $189.7MM to $221.3MM. Other teams will be limited to four years at $140.6MM, but Walker says his desire to remain with the Hornets is about more than money.

“That’s where I’ve been for eight years and that’s all I know,” he said. “Not many people get a chance to play for one NBA team throughout their career. When I go on my Instagram, I see, ‘Kemba leave! Kemba get out of Charlotte!’ People don’t understand, when they say you need to go ‘here’ and win, that winning is not guaranteed anywhere.”

Making that offer won’t be an easy decision for Charlotte, as Weiss explains. With several other hefty salaries already on the roster, giving Walker a super-max deal could push the Hornets into luxury tax territory for a roster that missed the playoffs. There wouldn’t be much room to maneuver until some of those contracts start to expire after next season.

Walker has heard that the Knicks and Mavericks may be planning to make a run at him, and more suitors will probably emerge if the Hornets don’t act quickly to lock him up on June 30. He brushes off the advantages of playing in a larger market, saying he doesn’t “need people to know what I’m doing all the time” and he’s not concerned with his “brand.”

Walker has built a strong connection with Charlotte since the Hornets traded up to draft him eight years ago. The security of a five-year deal will also be a strong selling point.

“I think at my age (29), whoever is my age in this situation, I think the fifth year is always important to them,” Walker said. “So yeah, it’s important for sure. But I don’t know, we gon’ see if we’re gonna work something out and figure it out. Hopefully, things work out, but it’s all about that God knows where I’m gonna go. He’s the only one who knows where I’m going right now, honestly. So I’m just going to let this thing play out.”

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14 thoughts on “Kemba Walker: Charlotte Is “First Priority” As Free Agency Approaches

  1. specialfriedrice

    lakers would be his best fit imo…but i’ll say he will stay and take the money.

    • There’s no way Charlotte gives Kemba Walker that Mega max deal.

      But of course he’s going to say he wants to stay. It’s a mega max deal.

  2. knickscavsfan

    That part about “winning not being guaranteed, no matter where you go”, is telling. I think he stays in Charlotte, but not on a max contract. There is something to be said about being an all-star player that stays with the same team. However, I’d have to sit with management and have a conversation about how committed to winning are they? If he takes less money then the money left on the table needs to be used to make the team better.

    • x%sure

      Of course he’s not getting 221mil. And they can’t use the money left over, they’re capped out. That is bird rights money, attached to Walker and the Hornets. If unspent, gone.

      Trying to win is what got them capped out! They’re like a spring flower, spent & in remission.

      Walker would like to see Charlotte’s best offer without waiting very long. June is the time to draw it out, while still on their stem.

  3. inkstainedscribe

    Every team says it’s committed to winning (even if it’s a “process” that’ll take a few years). Some teams have an idea how to do it. The Hornets haven’t convinced me they have a clue.

  4. As a Knick fan, I hope he stays in Charlotte. I don’t think MJ is going to pay him super max, but might go to regular home team max (5 years) for non-BB reasons. If not, he’s the perfect guy to be passed off as an elite signing, when in reality he’s a top candidate to have one of the worst contracts in the league in 2 years.

    • Chucktoad1

      Nah, he had meniscus surgery 4 years ago, other than that hes been pretty dependable. He hasn’t had the wear and tear other stars have had because he’s never been on a team that makes perennial deep playoff runs. He’ll still be putting up 22 and 6 while playing porous defense. In 2 years John Wall will be joined by Westbrook and Paul as having the worst contracts in the N.B.A.

      He’s not elite he just very good at his craft and a likeable guy. I definitely wouldn’t wish the Knicks on him.

  5. whoneedsfacts

    He is literally showing that all he cares about is a five year super max. Any team that gives Kemba a max deal is crazy, if Charlotte gives him a five year super max they will be screwed for the next five years.

    • It seems like there’s a certain percentage of these Max contracts given out that the team regrets it within 12 months.

      “We need to get Chris Paul’s money off the books.”

      “John Wall’s contract is handicapping the Wizards.” Etcetera.

      • I would say north of 90% are regrettable, the problem is that they give them to guys around their 30’s, at that age you cannot overpay them any more, I would be much happier paying supermax to guys 25 or under, just about to hit their prime.
        To me the system doesn’t make sense, having young players & players at their prime earning team friendly contracts & as soon as they are nearing the end of their prime, then you pay them huge contracts… always a bad idea, right?

        • Yes !!

          It almost seems like we are rewarding these guys for past performance. Because as you say, they’re not going to perform well enough in the future to earn that huge money.

  6. hiflew

    Charlotte didn’t trade up to get him in the draft. It was their pick all along. They also weren’t the Hornets when they picked him. They were the Bobcats.

  7. Does anybody remember Bobby Bonilla? Look it up. That’s the kind of deal I would offer Kemba Walker. But I would make it for 20 yrs. guaranteed. The Hornets would benefit from this move.

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