Former president of basketball operations Danny Ainge began shopping Walker after the team was eliminated from the playoffs last summer, Mannix states. He says Ainge and the front office were skeptical about Walker’s future after a knee injury he suffered in January 2020 lingered into the summer restart.
According to Mannix, the Celtics talked to “multiple teams” about a deal involving Walker, including a potential swap with the Spurs for LaMarcus Aldridge. The incentive for Boston was that Aldridge, now retired, had an expiring contract, while Walker is owed close to $74MM over the next two seasons.
Walker places a high priority on loyalty, Mannix adds, and was “frustrated” to learn that he was involved in trade talks after choosing the Celtics in free agency in 2019.
The report from Mannix coincides with a story by Farbod Esnaashari of Bleacher Report that claims there’s a “mutual agreement” between Walker and the Celtics to seek an offseason trade. Esnaashari mentions the Knicks and Mavericks as teams with the potential cap flexibility to assimilate Walker’s $36MM salary for next year.
Walker, 31, is a four-time All-Star, but his production has declined during two injury-plagued seasons in Boston. He went from scoring 25.6 PPG in his final year in Charlotte to 20.4 last season and 19.3 this year. He shot 42% from the field and 36% from three-point range, which were his worst numbers in six years.
A sore knee forced him to miss the start of the season, and he didn’t play his first game until mid-January. Walker missed 29 games this season and appeared in just 56 last year.