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.”