Kemba Walker

Knicks Notes: Robinson, Walker, Bacon, Offseason

The Knicks are open to signing Mitchell Robinson to a contract extension before the 2021/22 season begins, “as long as it’s not crazy,” a source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post. Robinson, who is one of the Knicks’ longest-tenured players, is entering a contract year and will be an unrestricted free agent in 2022 if he doesn’t sign a new deal before then.

As Berman notes, there are reasons both sides may want to wait on an extension. Robinson is coming off a season in which he suffered a broken hand and broken foot, so the Knicks might want to see him at full health again before making a major investment. The team’s multiyear commitment to Nerlens Noel in free agency also reduces the urgency to lock up Robinson.

Robinson, meanwhile, could significantly boost his stock in the coming months if he shows he’s back to 100% health and continues to improve on both ends of the court. For now, Berman says, league insiders consider the big man’s value to be around the mid-level or slightly higher. Berman suggests $44MM over four years could be a fair price for both sides.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • During his introductory press conference last week, Kemba Walker said he came “pretty close” to signing with the Knicks as a free agent in 2019 before heading to Boston instead. A source tells Berman that Walker had been interested in teaming up with Kevin Durant for the Knicks, but Durant – of course – chose to go to Brooklyn with Kyrie Irving instead. Berman says the Knicks and Walker decided at that point that a union wouldn’t make sense without another star on board.
  • According to Berman, multiple sources believe the Knicks decided to add Dwayne Bacon to their roster due to a recommendation from his former coach Steve Clifford, who is close with Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau. However, as Ian Begley of noted last week (via Twitter), Bacon is on an Exhibit 10 contract, so he’s no lock to make the regular season roster.
  • In his ranking of all 30 teams’ offseason moves, David Aldridge of The Athletic places the Knicks at No. 13, praising the team’s signing of Walker but arguing that losing Reggie Bullock will hurt.

Kemba Talks Signing With Hometown Knicks

In a conversation with Steve Serby of The New York Post, Knicks point guard Kemba Walker discussed the opportunity he received this offseason to join his hometown team.

Walker, a four-time All-Star with the Hornets and Celtics, has already had a busy summer. He was traded to the Thunder, then reached a buyout agreement with Oklahoma City so that he could sign a two-year, $18MM deal with New York.

“There’s nothing more I will want than to win a championship in New York,” Walker said. “I’m gonna give it every-everything I got. Every time I step on the court I’m gonna play super-hard, 110 percent. As far as a championship, I can’t put a time or date on it, but just know that we’re gonna be working towards that goal.”

Knee issues hampered the end of his tenure in Boston, but when he was able to see the floor last season Walker’s counting stats were respectable. Across 43 games, he averaged 19.3 PPG, 4.9 APG, and 4.0 RPG, with a shooting line of .420/.360/.899.

Walker discussed his enthusiasm to play with foundational All-NBA Knicks forward Julius Randle. When asked what he most appreciated about his new teammate, Walker replied, “His toughness, and his growth from the last couple of years into now, I’m just like in awe the way he has grown as a basketball player.”

RJ Barrett, 2019’s third overall pick and the Knicks’ second-leading scorer last year, also warranted special mention from Walker.

“I’ve just been a fan of him,” Walker said. “When he was in high school I saw him play and I saw his highlights and stuff like that, I’ve always been a super-big fan of him. Playing against guys like RJ, the first thing I noticed was how hard he plays, it’s not even the skill. … That’s a real talent, playing hard. So I’m looking forward to just helping those guys a little bit more, teaching them the ropes. Just being a vet.”

Walker has also already developed a bond with second-year point guard Immanuel Quickley.

“When I signed, he was one of the first guys to text me, which was really cool, welcome me in, asked me to get some workouts in with me, I definitely appreciated that,” Walker said. “But playing against him last year, even watching at Kentucky, he has so much potential. I think I could be able to help him get there.”

Knicks Notes: Walker, Fournier, Dinwiddie, Cash

The Knicks’ two-year, $18MM offer to Kemba Walker was the only one he needed to consider, the point guard said today during an introductory press conference for him and Evan Fournier.

Perfect timing. Really motivated,” Walker said, per ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. “Super excited that these guys have belief in me. That’s all I need. I just need somebody to believe in me. These guys do, and I appreciate that.”

Bontemps also writes that the status of Walker’s knee remains a big question. When asked if he’d play in back-to-backs this season (he didn’t last year), Walker replied with a smile, “You gotta ask (coach Tom Thibodeau).

Thibodeau responded in a customary fashion. “Playing,” he said, eliciting laughter from those in attendance.

We have more Knicks news here:

  • Both the Clippers and Lakers were interested in trading for Walker, but couldn’t reach a deal with the Thunder, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Berman runs through what held up the Knicks in their pursuit of other guards, writing that they liked Lonzo Ball but wanted a more ready-made point guard. Berman adds that – given Walker’s and Derrick Rose‘s history of knee injuries – Immanuel Quickley and rookie Miles McBride may be more important than realized to the team’s success.
  • Spencer Dinwiddie responded to the claim in Berman’s article that he didn’t see the Knicks as “an appealing fit,” tweeting today, “Why y’all still writing this stuff about me? I never said that.” He went on to say he’s just happy to be a member of the Wizards.
  • The Knicks will send $110K to the Celtics as their return for the Fournier sign-and-trade, reports Fred Katz of The Athletic (Twitter link). In addition to the 28-year-old shooting guard, the Knicks will receive two future second-round picks (one heavily protected) for their role in helping the Celtics create a $17.1MM trade exception.

Atlantic Notes: Thomas, Randle, Walker, Sixers

Nets rookie Cameron Thomas has shined during the NBA’s Las Vegas Summer League, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. Thomas entered Sunday as the highest-scoring rookie in the event, proving his value as the No. 27 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.

“People always want to doubt me and doubt my ability to score the ball,” Thomas said. “My progress has been great. I’ve been getting better game-to-game, getting a better feel for the game, feel for the pace…I think I’m doing real well.”

Thomas and the Nets will play the Spurs on Sunday night before finishing summer league on Tuesday.

Here are some other notes out of New York today:

  • Julius Randle‘s extension with the Knicks will likely be a win-win situation for both him and the team, says Ian Begley of Randle is coming off a career-best season, averaging 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and six assists per game. The Knicks finished with an impressive 41-31 record and made the playoffs for the first time since 2013 in 2020/21.
  • New Knicks guard Kemba Walker is set to return to New York after spending the last decade away from the state, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News writes. Walker signed with the Knicks after reaching a buyout agreement with the Thunder, joining a backcourt that already includes Derrick Rose, Immanuel Quickley and others. As Bondy notes, the Bronx native will now have the chance to show what he’s learned on the road over the past 10 years.
  • Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer examines what various Sixers players have learned during summer league this month, specifically those entering their second seasons. Among those players is Paul Reed, who finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds in 24 minutes of work on Saturday.

Atlantic Notes: Griffin, Sixers, Knicks, Schröder

Despite looking rejuvenated in Brooklyn down the stretch of the 2020/21 season, veteran forward Blake Griffin accepted another minimum-salary contract to return to the Nets, and said on Thursday that the decision was a “no-brainer,” as Brian Lewis of The New York Post relays.

“We as a team felt like we obviously didn’t accomplish what we wanted,” Griffin said. “You can say injuries, but every team had injuries. So we feel like there’s definitely unfinished business. There’s something bigger that we want to achieve, and I still want to be a part of that.”

Not all of the Nets’ key free agents returned – Jeff Green left for Denver – but Griffin wasn’t the only player to re-sign a team-friendly deal and make reference to unfinished business after falling short of a championship in 2021. Bruce Brown, who accepted his one-year, $4.7MM qualifying offer from Brooklyn, told GM Sean Marks that he felt “the job wasn’t done.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Rich Hofmann of The Athletic takes a look at the Sixers‘ offseason, observing that the team has mostly taken a “run it back” approach so far, with Andre Drummond and Georges Niang filling the Dwight Howard and Mike Scott roles. Of course, the possibility of a Ben Simmons trade still looms large, but it’s unclear what such a deal might look like if the 76ers don’t get a chance to make a run at Damian Lillard.
  • As Ian Begley of writes, as a result of all the multiyear contract commitments the Knicks made this offseason, the summer of 2022 projects to be the first offseason in a few years that the team won’t have maximum-salary cap space.
  • Knicks forward Obi Toppin, a native New Yorker like Kemba Walker, grew up idolizing the point guard and can’t wait to play alongside him in 2021/22, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. “Having Kemba come to the team is amazing,” Toppin said. “Great player. I’ve watched him as long as he’s been playing since he left UConn. Having an opportunity to play with him is going to be amazing.”
  • Dennis Schröder may not be a perfect on-court fit for the Celtics, but he’ll bring an element of speed and an ability to get to the rim that the team’s other point guards don’t have, and it’s hard to argue with the value of a one-year, $5.9MM deal, says Jay King of The Athletic.

Eastern Notes: Ntilikina, Kemba, Simmons, Timma, Magic

The Knicks have renounced their free agent rights to former lottery pick Frank Ntilikina, according to RealGM’s transactions log.

The move, which was necessary in order for New York to maximize its cap space, doesn’t preclude the team from re-signing Ntilikina. The Knicks no longer have his Bird rights, but could still re-sign him using cap space or an exception (such as the minimum-salary exception). There has been no indication that’s in the cards, however.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Kemba Walker‘s new two-year, $18MM contract with the Knicks is fully guaranteed with no options, tweets Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. Keith Smith of Spotrac, providing the year-by-year breakdown, notes (via Twitter) that the two-year value technically comes in at about $17.89MM.
  • Checking in on the Ben Simmons sweepstakes, ESPN’s Zach Lowe confirms that the Spurs, Warriors, and Timberwolves are among the teams that have had some talks with the Sixers and reiterates a point that a few other reporters have made — Philadelphia likely wants to wait to see if Damian Lillard becomes available before moving Simmons. For now, the Trail Blazers star hasn’t asked to be dealt and is off the table, Lowe adds.
  • Josh Robbins of The Athletic takes a closer look at the bid 29-year-old Janis Timma is making to earn a spot on the Magic‘s roster. The 60th pick in the 2013 draft, Timma has spent his professional career in Europe but is part of Orlando’s Summer League squad. “I just want to show that I’m ready to play here and I belong here,” he said.
  • The Lakeland Magic have hired Joe Barrer as their head coach, according to a press release from the team. Barrer spent the last four seasons as an assistant coach to Stan Heath for Orlando’s G League affiliate. Heath, who led Lakeland to an NBAGL title and earned Coach of the Year honors earlier this year, left for a job at Eastern Michigan.

Knicks Officially Sign Kemba Walker

10:55am: Walker’s new deal is worth $18MM over two years, sources tell Mike Vorkunov and Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

9:40am: The Knicks have officially signed free agent point guard Kemba Walker, the team announced today in a press release. It’s a homecoming for Walker, who was born and raised in the Bronx.

“We are beyond thrilled to bring native New Yorker Kemba Walker back to the city he’s proud to call home. He’s a tremendous talent whose skill and leadership will be a huge addition to our organization,” Knicks president of basketball operations Leon Rose said in a statement. “We’ve already seen how well he performs on The Garden stage and can’t wait to witness it on a nightly basis in front of his family, friends, and the best fans in the league.”

Word first broke last Wednesday that Walker had agreed to a buyout with the Thunder and was planning to sign with the Knicks. Oklahoma City officially placed the Walker on waivers on Friday after the two sides finalized a buyout agreement that saw the 31-year-old give up $20MM of the $73MM+ left on his contract.

Walker’s new deal with the Knicks is expected to cover two seasons and be worth about $8-9MM annually, as reported last week by Ryan McDonough of NBC Sports Boston (Twitter link).

Walker, who was traded from Boston to Oklahoma City in June, was limited to 43 games for the Celtics in 2020/21 due to knee issues, but put up strong numbers in the games he played, averaging 19.3 PPG, 4.9 APG, and 4.0 RPG on .420/.360/.899 shooting in 31.8 minutes per contest.

The four-time All-Star will join a Knicks backcourt that also features Derrick Rose, Immanuel Quickley, Alec Burks, and second-round pick Miles McBride.

New York has been a little slower than some teams in finalizing the free agent deals it agreed to during the moratorium — the order of operations is crucial for the Knicks, who are completing most of their signings using cap space. The team officially completed Nerlens Noel‘s deal on Tuesday and have now finalized Walker’s too. The others – including Rose, Burks, and Evan Fournier – will likely be announced soon.

Kemba Walker Gave Up $20MM In Thunder Buyout

Veteran point guard Kemba Walker gave up $20MM in his buyout agreement with the Thunder, according to Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter link). Bobby Marks of ESPN (Instagram video) first reported that Walker was giving back $20MM as part of that deal.

Walker’s cap hit with Oklahoma City will be reduced by $9,777,778 in 2021/22 and by $10,222,222 in 2022/23, per Smith. The 31-year-old guard had originally been set to earn $36,016,200 this season and $37,653,300 in ’22/23.

It’s a significant concession by Walker, whose new deal with the Knicks is reportedly to be worth approximately $8-9MM per year over two seasons. It’ll be interesting to see whether his new salaries match the amounts he gave up in the buyout, or if he ends up making a little less as a result of his decision to play for his hometown team.

The terms of the buyout also help explain why the Thunder were willing to move on from Walker now rather than trying to rebuild his value during the coming season and flip him for an asset down the road.

Walker, who was traded from Boston to Oklahoma City in June, was limited to 43 games for the Celtics in 2020/21 due to knee issues, but put up strong numbers in the games he played, averaging 19.3 PPG, 4.9 APG, and 4.0 RPG on .420/.360/.899 shooting in 31.8 minutes per contest.

Walker officially cleared waivers on Sunday, so his new deal with New York can be completed anytime. The Knicks haven’t yet announced any of their free agent signings — they’ll likely finalize them one after another at some point, whether that happens today or later in the week.

Thunder Place Kemba Walker On Waivers

The Thunder have officially waived point guard Kemba Walker, the team announced today in a press release. The two sides agreed to a buyout earlier this week and have now finalized that agreement.

Walker, 31, was limited to 43 games for the Celtics in 2020/21 due to knee issues, but put up strong numbers in the games he played, averaging 19.3 PPG, 4.9 APG, and 4.0 RPG on .420/.360/.899 shooting in 31.8 minutes per contest.

Oklahoma City acquired Walker from Boston back in June in Brad Stevens‘ first major roster move as the Celtics’ president of basketball operations. Although that deal was considered a salary-dump, with the Thunder receiving a first-round pick for taking on Walker, a report last week stated OKC believed it might be possible to flip him to another team for an asset. Those efforts were ultimately unsuccessful.

The move will open up more playing time for the Thunder’s young ball-handlers (besides Shai Gilgeous-Alexander), including Theo Maledon and Josh Giddey.

Walker, meanwhile, is now on track to clear waivers on Sunday, assuming the Thunder officially released him by 5:00pm ET today. Once he clears waivers, the veteran guard will sign with the Knicks.

Walker’s deal with the Knicks will be a two-year contract worth about $8-9MM annually, as Ryan McDonough of NBC Sports Boston first reported earlier in the week. The four-time All-Star will join a Knicks backcourt that also features Derrick Rose, Immanuel Quickley, Alec Burks, and second-round pick Miles McBride.

Atlantic Notes: Knox, Raptors, Sixers, Beckner, Kemba

Knicks forward Kevin Knox will not play for the team in the Las Vegas Summer League, the club announced today (via Twitter). According to the Knicks, Knox has been placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

It’s unclear whether Knox has tested positive for COVID-19. Regardless, he’ll miss out on an important opportunity for offseason development following three underwhelming seasons with the Knicks, creating further uncertainty about his future with the franchise.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Even though Masai Ujiri has made several savvy roster moves during his tenure as head of basketball operations in Toronto, he has had a hard time luring top free agents to the Raptors and many of his biggest free agent signings have been busts, write Eric Koreen and Blake Murphy of The Athletic. That’s likely a big reason why the Raptors appear to be forgoing cap space and operating over the cap this offseason, per The Athletic’s duo.
  • The Sixers have hired Phil Beckner as a coaching consultant, Yaron Weitzman of FOX Sports relays (Twitter links). While it’s probably unwise to read too much into the move, it’s worth noting that Beckner is a former Weber State assistant coach and Damian Lillard‘s trainer.
  • Mike Vorkunov, Jay King, and Jared Weiss of The Athletic discuss Kemba Walker‘s injury history and his fit with the Knicks. As Vorkunov points out, even if Walker’s left knee isn’t 100% healthy going forward, the cost of signing him (about $8MM) isn’t prohibitive and he has proven in the last two seasons that he can still be productive while dealing with that knee issue.