Kemba Walker Awaiting Another NBA Opportunity

Former Celtics guard Kemba Walker was a spectator when the team played Saturday night in Atlanta, but he’s not ready for the end of his NBA career, writes Jared Weiss of The Athletic.

Walker appeared in just nine games this season, all with the Mavericks, who signed him in late November and released him on January 6 before his salary would have become fully guaranteed. He would be playoff-eligible if another team signs him before the season ends, but he says he’s fine if that doesn’t happen.

“There’s really no rush for me. I’m really trying to eat up this time, to be real,” Walker said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten so much time to work on myself, work on my body. So I’m not tripping at all. Honestly, I’d probably rather just sit it out and try to be ready for the next go-around, so we’ll see how it (goes).”

Walker was an All-Star when Boston acquired him from the Hornets in 2019. He posted one more All-Star season with the Celtics, but a knee injury eventually derailed his game. He was dealt to the Thunder in 2021 and had an injury-plagued comeback attempt with the Knicks before the Pistons traded for him and waived him last summer.

Walker averaged 8.0 points and 2.1 assists with Dallas in 16 minutes per night, but the ongoing knee issue robbed him of the explosiveness that used to define his game. It also turned him into a defensive liability and made it difficult for coach Jason Kidd to keep him on the court.

“They said they wanted to go young. That was it,” Walker explained. “They wanted to go young, which I respect. I was happy that I got the opportunity to get out there, be in Dallas, get the chance to play with Luka (Doncic) and watch him up close and personal. After playing with (Jayson Tatum), I’ve played with two of the best young players in the game right now. So that was a pretty cool experience.”

Weiss points out that the Celtics have an open roster spot, but he believes they’re more likely to sign a young prospect than to take a chance on a veteran like Walker. He also notes that it’s been hard to find minutes for Payton Pritchard, so there wouldn’t be a role for Walker to play.

Walker, who has spent the past two months working out at his home in Charlotte, is willing to be patient as he awaits his next opportunity.

“I love basketball. I’m not ready to stop playing yet,” he said. “Wherever the wind takes me.”

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