Kemba Walker

Knicks Notes: Gilgeous-Alexander, Brunson, Barrett, Walker

The Knicks weren’t willing to part with a major portion of their draft assets to land Donovan Mitchell, but Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander might be worth the gamble, writes Mark W. Sanchez of The New York Post. New York fans will get to see the talented guard in person Sunday afternoon when Oklahoma City comes to Madison Square Garden.

Although SGA has often said that he prefers to remain with the Thunder — and repeated that sentiment Friday night — his trade value might be too tempting for a franchise that’s still in the rebuilding stage. Through 11 games, Gilgeous-Alexander ranks sixth in the league in scoring at 30.5 PPG and he’s averaging 4.4 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.0 steals as well.

Gilgeous-Alexander would fit the Knicks’ fascination with Kentucky players, and Sanchez states that team scouts saw plenty of him in college before New York took his teammate, Kevin Knox, with the No. 9 pick in 2018. SGA also has a connection with RJ Barrett as they’re set to join forces for Team Canada at the 2024 Olympics.

Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti has been willing to trade away stars in the past, and if he decides to move Gilgeous-Alexander in exchange for draft picks, New York is in a strong position to make the best offer, Sanchez contends.

There’s more on the Knicks:

  • Jalen Brunson believes Barrett has All-Star potential, per Ian O’Connor of The New York Post. “I think he can be a very impactful player, I think he can lead a franchise, and that’s what he was picked here to do,” Brunson told reporters Friday after Barrett’s 30-point outburst in a win over the Pistons. “He can do it. I have the utmost faith in him. He works very hard. He has a great demeanor about how he plays. You never see when he’s frustrated, you never see when he’s having the game of his life. … It shows he’s not afraid of the moment, not afraid of anything. He’s capable of doing a lot of big things.” 
  • Former Knicks guard Kemba Walker is being patient as he waits for a chance to return to the NBA, relays Zach Braziller of The New York Post. Appearing this week on a podcast with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Walker explained what went wrong after he signed with New York last summer. “When the opportunity came about, I was über-excited,” he said. “But unfortunately, it just didn’t work out for me. Individually, I didn’t really fit the system and what those guys were trying to do over there. It just wasn’t for me.” 
  • Because the Knicks don’t have a true first option to lead their offense, they have to rely on effort and hard work more than other teams around the league, notes Steve Popper of Newsday. When that’s not present, like in Wednesday’s blowout loss to the Nets, the results can be embarrassing.

Pistons Waive Kemba Walker

OCTOBER 17: As expected, the Pistons have waived Walker, the team confirmed today in a press release.

OCTOBER 14: The Pistons will likely waive veteran guard Kemba Walker in the coming days in order to get their roster down to the regular season limit of 15 players on standard contracts, according to Shams Charania and James L. Edwards III of The Athletic (Twitter link).

A four-time All-Star, Walker has seen his production dip in the last year or two as he has been slowed by knee issues. He averaged 11.6 PPG and 3.5 APG on .403/.367/.845 shooting in 37 games (25.6 MPG) last season for the Knicks, and was a liability on defense.

New York sent Walker to Detroit in a salary-dump trade in June, and reports immediately indicated that the 32-year-old and the Pistons would likely come to a buyout agreement. However, that buyout didn’t end up coming to fruition.

There are likely a couple reasons why Walker has yet to accept the Pistons’ buyout offer. For one, there has been no indication that he has a guaranteed contract offer on the table from another team, as he seemingly confirmed last week.

Additionally, since Detroit has more than 15 players on guaranteed contracts, the team was always going to have to trade or release one of those players by the regular season roster deadline of October 17 — since Walker is so obviously the odd man out, the Pistons had little leverage to encourage him to give back a portion of his $9.17MM salary unless they parted with another player on a guaranteed deal.

If and when Walker is waived, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent two days later and would be able to sign with any team except the Knicks. Potential suitors will certainly be wary of Kemba’s knee problems, but he insisted last week that he can still be a useful NBA player and still has “a few years left” in him.

“I’ve got something in the tank for sure,” he said. “I feel great. I’m going to be honest. I’m going to have my opportunity. I’m not in any rush right now. I’m just grinding and trying to feel as good as I can. And right now, I feel great. I feel as good as I’ve felt in a long time. I’m just waiting for the opportunity.”

Walker’s former team in Charlotte is one that has been mentioned as a possible landing spot — the Hornets were already short on point guard depth even before LaMelo Ball sprained his ankle during the preseason.

Hornets Notes: Waived Players, Walker, Season

After being waived by the Hornets, shooting guard LiAngelo Ball (older brother to All-Star Charlotte point guard LaMelo Ball) point guard Jalen Crutcher, small forward Xavier Sneed, and shooting guard Ty-Shon Alexander have an uncertain future. Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer takes stock of where each player could be headed.

Boone notes that the Hornets possess the G League returning rights for all four players, assuming they clear waivers. Should Ball, Crutcher, Sneed and Alexander elect to remain stateside and play in the G League, they will have to suit up for Charlotte’s NBAGL affiliate club, the Greensboro Swarm.

The 6’5″ Ball, 23, spent the 2021/22 season with the Swarm. In 28 games, he averaged 4.6 PPG and 1.1 RPG in 13.2 MPG. Most intriguingly, he connected on 35.7% of his 3.0 three-point attempts in those games.

There’s more out of Charlotte:

  • Now that the Pistons are expected to waive veteran point guard Kemba Walker, it’s certainly a possibility that the Hornets opt to use their final roster spot to sign Walker, who was named to three of his four All-Star teams while playing for Charlotte. Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer (subscriber-exclusive link) wonders if he could help provide a veteran spark off the bench. The team has 13 players signed to guaranteed contracts. Point guard Dennis Smith Jr. currently occupies the team’s 14th spot on a non-guaranteed deal.
  • The Hornets had a fairly lackluster offseason, adding no new free agents and subtracting a lottery pick. The team also fired head coach James Borrego, hired Warriors assistant coach Kenny Atkinson, lost Atkinson after less than a week, and pivoted, frantically bringing back former head coach Steve Clifford. After the Hornets finished with a 43-39 record and made a play-in tournament appearance last year, John Hollinger of The Athletic anticipates a regression in an improved Eastern Conference, predicting in his season preview that Charlotte will finish with a 34-48 record, good for the No. 12 seed in the East.

Kemba Walker Continues To Await Next Opportunity

Appearing at the Hornets/Celtics preseason game at Greensboro Coliseum on Friday, point guard Kemba Walker confirmed that he hasn’t gotten a satisfactory buyout offer from the Pistons yet and is remaining patient as he waits for his next NBA opportunity, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe.

The Pistons, who have 16 players on guaranteed contracts, are widely expected to waive Walker before the regular season begins, whether or not he agrees to forfeit any of the $9.17MM he’s owed in 2022/23. It doesn’t make sense for the veteran to give up money in a buyout agreement until another team offers him a guaranteed contract, and there’s no indication that has happened yet. But Walker feels healthy and believes it’s just a matter of time until he gets a shot from a new team.

“I’ve got something in the tank for sure,” he said. “I feel great. I’m going to be honest. I’m going to have my opportunity. I’m not in any rush right now. I’m just grinding and trying to feel as good as I can. And right now, I feel great. I feel as good as I’ve felt in a long time. I’m just waiting for the opportunity.”

A four-time All-Star, Walker has started every game he’s played since the 2014/15 season, but recognizes that after battling knee issues for the last few years, he can’t realistically expect to continue in that role going forward.

“I just want to be able to play basketball again; I don’t care if it’s the bench or not,” he said, per Washburn. “I started off my career playing basketball coming off the bench. Who cares? I just want to be able to play ball like I love to do, being around some great, great teammates and just have fun.”

There haven’t been many potential suitors connected to Walker this offseason, but one team rumored to have some interest is his old club in Charlotte. While it sounds like Walker is open to rejoining the Hornets before his career is over, he wants to make it clear that he doesn’t think he’ll be retiring anytime soon.

“That would be special,” Walker said when asked about a return to the Hornets. “(But) as far as closing my career, I’ve got a few more years left, in my opinion, so I’m not thinking about that yet. We’ll see. I’m just waiting. (Nobody’s) reached out to me. I’m just waiting.”

Pistons Finalize Camp Roster, Announce Injury Updates

The Pistons officially announced their training camp roster on Monday, and it includes two new names. According to the team, guards Jules Bernard and Stanley Umude have signed Exhibit 10 contracts, filling out the 20-man roster.

Bernard, a 6’7″ swingman, went undrafted out of UCLA earlier this year. As a senior in 2021/22, he averaged 12.8 PPG and 4.7 RPG with a shooting line of .419/.337/.818 in 35 games (30.1 MPG). He subsequently played for the Pistons’ Summer League team in Las Vegas.

Umude, whose agreement with the Pistons was previously reported, spent his first four college seasons at South Dakota from 2017-21, averaging 21.6 PPG, 7.0 RPG, and 3.0 APG as a senior in 2020/21. He transferred to Arkansas for his “super-senior” season last year and played more of a complementary role for the Razorbacks, putting up 11.9 PPG, 4.6 RPG, and 1.1 APG on .460/.371/.724 shooting in 37 games (27.8 MPG).

Like Bernard, Umude went undrafted and then played for the Pistons’ Summer League team in July. Both players will likely end up playing for the Motor City Cruise, Detroit’s G League affiliate.

Here are a few more updates from the Pistons today:

  • While Kemba Walker is listed on Detroit’s training camp roster, he’s marked as “not with team,” which had been expected. Bojan Bogdanovic is the lone Piston missing from the team’s camp roster — while’s transaction log indicates the trade sending him to Detroit was completed last Thursday, he may still need to conduct a physical with his new team before it’s officially official.
  • In a separate press release, the Pistons announced that guard Alec Burks will miss the start of training camp as he continues his rehab following a navicular fracture. Burks will be reevaluated in three weeks, according to the team.
  • Kevin Knox (right gastroc strain) and Nerlens Noel (reconditioning / plantar fasciitis) will be limited participants to open training camp, the Pistons announced.

Kemba Walker Likely To Be Away From Pistons To Start Camp

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.

Latest On Kemba Walker, Pistons

It has been over two months since ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Pistons and Kemba Walker were finalizing a buyout agreement, but with training camps set to tip off in less than three weeks, the veteran point guard remains under contract in Detroit.

As James L. Edwards III of The Athletic explains in his latest mailbag, the Pistons would still like to buy out Walker, and the holdup isn’t due to anything on their end. Sources tell Edwards that Walker and the Pistons found common ground on a buyout number that would reduce his $9,165,471 cap hit by “a few million,” but the 32-year-old has yet to officially agree to those terms.

While Edwards can’t confirm why the move has been delayed, he suspects that Walker doesn’t yet have a new NBA home lined up and isn’t inclined to give up a portion of his salary until he’s confident he can make most or all of that money back on a new deal.

The Pistons currently have 17 players on guaranteed contracts and presumably aren’t interested in having Walker on their 15-man roster to start the season, since that would require them to trade or release two other players instead of just one. That means their leverage is limited as they try to nudge Walker to surrender some of his salary.

If he’s not confident he’ll have a contract offer on the table from another team, Walker could simply wait out the Pistons and let them waive him before the season begins, at which point they’d owe him his full $9MM+ salary. Taking that route wouldn’t be a major financial burden for Detroit, since the team’s total salary remains below the cap.

A minimum-salary contract for Walker in 2022/23 would be worth $2,905,851, so if he does find a suitor willing to sign him, that could be the amount he gives back to the Pistons in a buyout agreement.

A four-time All-Star, Walker has seen his production dip in the last year or two as he has been slowed by knee issues. He averaged 11.6 PPG and 3.5 APG on .403/.367/.845 shooting in 37 games (25.6 MPG) last season for the Knicks, and was a liability on defense.

Pistons Notes: Breakout Players, Walker, Casey

Before the Pistons can take a leap in the win column and contend for the postseason, the team will need its young role players to improve in their development. Mike Curtis of The Detroit News identifies power forward Marvin Bagley III — the former No. 2 lottery pick in 2018 — athletic wing Hamidou Diallo, and center Isaiah Stewart as three such role players capable of growing their games in 2022/23.

Curtis thinks that Bagley could become a reliable option in the post if he can stay healthy next year. Curtis also opines that Diallo could see his standing in the Detroit hierarchy improve if he grows as a long-range shooter. Stewart’s three-point output has been limited in the last two seasons. He has connected on 33% of his 0.8 attempts thus far in his NBA career. Curtis writes that the 6’8″ big man showed off an increased willingness to let fly from outside during two Summer League contests with Detroit in Las Vegas this year. Overall, Stewart shot 5-of-9 from outside.

There’s more out of the Motor City:

  • The Pistons may still be holding out hope that they can use the expiring $9.2MM remaining on veteran point guard Kemba Walker‘s current contract in a trade. Keith Langlois of notes in a new mailbag that, if such a deal does not materialize in time for the start of NBA training camps later this month, Detroit could move to buy him out of his deal. Elsewhere in the mailbag, Langlois says he considers Isaiah Livers the most likely new addition to the Pistons’ starting lineup this season, and thinks star point guard Cade Cunningham, the top draft pick in 2021, could be in line for All-Star consideration this season if he continues to develop.
  • In an interview with Johnny Kane of Bally Sports Detroit (Twitter video link), Pistons head coach Dwane Casey expressed enthusiasm about the team’s ability to grow next season. Casey hailed Cade Cunningham and 2022 No. 5 overall pick Jaden Ivey as “stars to be.” Casey anticipates that the team will at the very least improve from its 23-59 record in 2021/22. “You expect growth,” Casey said (hat tip to Mike Curtis of The Detroit News for the transcription). “The internal growth is very important. One thing [GM] Troy Weaver has done is brought a bunch of young, hard-working, character guys in that have been working all summer. I can see the improvement. The game has slowed down for a guy like Saddiq Bey. You mentioned Cade Cunningham. You mention Isaiah Stewart — all those guys, the game has slowed down for them.”
  • The Pistons recently agreed to sign free agent big man Micah Potter to a training camp deal. Get the full details here.

Stein’s Latest: Morris, Hornets, Mitchell, Lakers

Veteran free agent power forward Markieff Morris is under consideration as a reserve acquisition for the Sixers in addition to the Nets, writes Marc Stein in a new article for Substack.

Stein notes that the 32-year-old was known to be a vocal locker room presence while on a star-studded 2019/20 championship-winning Lakers club, and could be a good fit for a Brooklyn team fielding several at-times angsty superstars.

Morris missed most of his 2021/22 season with the Heat due to a major neck injury after entering the season as a key reserve. In his 17 available regular season games with Miami, Morris averaged 7.6 PPG, 2.6 RPG, and 1.4 APG. The 6’9″ big man out of Kansas posted a shooting line of .474/.333/.889.

Here’s more from Stein:

  • As the Hornets consider reserve point guard options behind developing All-Star LaMelo Ball, the team has broadened its list of potential targets to include former Suns point guard Elfrid Payton, according to Stein. Isaiah Thomas, who fulfilled the role adequately last season, is still being looked at, as is Pistons point guard Kemba Walker, a three-time All-Star while with Charlotte whom Stein expects to be bought out of his current deal.
  • The Lakers‘ 2027 and 2029 first-round draft selections, along with the expiring contract of incumbent point guard Russell Westbrook, could be used to help complete a three-team Donovan Mitchell trade for the Jazz, either with the Knicks or even another suitor. Stein writes that the draft picks could hold significant appeal for Jazz team president Danny Ainge, who earlier this summer received quite a bounty in future draft equity as part of his blockbuster deal that shipped former Utah All-Star Rudy Gobert out to the Timberwolves.
  • Stein cautions that the Lakers, who leveraged a lot of future draft picks in their trade for Anthony Davis, remain fairly protective of the 2027 and 2029 picks. Given that L.A. is fielding a team with (currently) three maximum-salaried veterans all with at least 10 years of experience, one would expect the club to very much be in win-now mode, but the team only wants to make a move if it values the returning players as being worth the sacrifice. Stein defines that as players who can help the team return to its standing as a championship contender, following a disappointing 33-49 season that saw the Lakers on the outside of the play-in tournament looking in.

Central Notes: Walker, Stewart, Bulls, Bucks

The Pistons are likely holding onto Kemba Walker to see if he might have any value in a potential trade, Keith Langlois of writes in a mailbag column. There have been rumors since late June of a buyout agreement for Walker, who was acquired from the Knicks in a trade that was agreed upon on draft night but couldn’t be finalized until the moratorium lifted.

There’s little chance that Walker will play for Detroit, but with training camp almost six weeks away, there’s no urgency to complete a buyout. If the Pistons need to open a spot on their 20-man camp roster, a buyout deal can be done at any time, but for now the team is waiting to see if his $9.2MM contract could be a trade asset.

The Hornets have reportedly shown an interest in bringing back Walker, who was a star in Charlotte for eight seasons. He has been slowed by knee soreness and played just 37 games for New York last season.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Isaiah Stewart is a “heavy favorite” to be the Pistons‘ starting center again this season, Langlois adds in the same piece. Stewart was used mainly at power forward in Summer League, playing alongside rookie center Jalen Duren. Langlois notes that Duren will need playing time this season, but it may be hard to get at the NBA level with Stewart, Kelly Olynyk, Marvin Bagley III and Nerlens Noel in the same frontcourt. Langlois suggests that Duren may see some time in the G League while he develops his NBA skills.
  • The Bulls will only have 14 nationally televised games — seven on ESPN, three on TNT and four on NBA TV — which Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic sees as a disappointing number for a playoff team in a major market. Examining Chicago’s schedule, Mayberry notes that a lot of conference tests will come early, with 12 of the Bulls’ first 13 games against Eastern teams.
  • The Bucks will be on national TV 32 times, per Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, including their season opener October 20 at Philadelphia that will feature a matchup of perennial MVP candidates Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid.