Kemba Walker Not Interested In Buyout

Kemba Walker has already been bought out of a contract once since the 2021/22 league year began, having reached a deal with Oklahoma City that paved the way for his New York homecoming.

However, even now that he has been shut down for the rest of the season by the Knicks, Walker isn’t seeking a second buyout agreement, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said during an appearance on NBA Today on Thursday (video link).

“There are a number of teams who would love to have Kemba Walker in a buyout,” Wojnarowski said. “That’s not gonna happen. He’s not interested in that with New York.”

The decision to shut down Walker for the rest of the season was made by the point guard’s camp as well as the Knicks, with an eye toward getting him healthy for the 2022/23 campaign, so it makes sense that Kemba wouldn’t be eager to jump ship for an immediate role with a new team.

Walker also sacrificed a bit of money when he gave up $20MM in his buyout agreement with the Thunder and then signed a two-year, $17.9MM deal with New York, so he probably isn’t looking to do that again just six months later.

The Knicks have no real motive to pursue a buyout with Walker either. They’re not in urgent need of a roster spot, and once the offseason arrives, Kemba’s expiring $9.2MM contract could be useful as a salary-matching chip in trade talks. Wojnarowski said during his NBA Today appearance that New York will likely peruse the trade market for an impact player this summer.

“The goal has been – since Leon Rose was hired as president and William Wesley was brought into the front office – that they would be in the market for franchise-type players who became available in trades,” Wojnarowski said. “This isn’t a team that has cap space this summer, but they do have assets. They have draft assets, they have all their own picks, they still have Dallas’ 2023 first-round pick, which is protected. That certainly would have value.”

A player who is bought out must be waived by March 1 in order to retain his playoff eligibility for a new team. Once that date passes, we can be even more certain that Walker will finish this season with the Knicks.

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