Veteran point guard Kemba Walker will likely be away from the Pistons as they open training camp this week, sources told Shams Charania and James Edwards III of The Athletic (Twitter link). It’s unclear whether Walker is expected to miss the entire camp or only a portion of it.
As Charania and Edwards note, Detroit must waive or trade a player by Oct. 17 to be at the league limit for standard roster spots entering the regular season. That player doesn’t have to be Walker, of course, but at this stage in his career, it would make sense for him to join a contending team if possible.
On the flip side, it makes sense for Detroit to move on from Walker. The team could benefit from his veteran leadership in the off chance he’s interested in staying, but the 32-year-old was acquired in a salary-dump deal and isn’t part of the Pistons’ long-term plans. He’s set to make $9.17MM this season and become a free agent next summer.
A report at the start of free agency indicated that the Pistons and Walker were close to reaching a buyout agreement, but that deal was never formally completed. Subsequent reporting suggested Walker was likely unwilling to give up any money in a buyout until he had lined up a new NBA home.
Walker averaged 11.6 points and 3.5 assists in 25.6 minutes with the Knicks last season, starting in all 37 of his games. He hasn’t played off the bench since four outings during the 2014/15 campaign. While he has been an offensive force throughout his career, Walker’s defense was notably porous with New York. The four-time All-Star must prove he can survive on both ends before earning a significant role with a team again.