Kemba Walker

Southeast Notes: Hood, Walker, Monk, Payton

Rodney Hood‘s ability to score off the bench could make him a perfect fit for the Wizards, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. The 25-year-old Jazz guard seems like a good bet to be traded by the February 8 deadline, and Washington could be among the suitors.

Hood is averaging 16.7 points per game while shooting 41.3% from the field and 38.6% from 3-point range. He has an expiring contract worth a little less than $2.4MM, so matching salaries wouldn’t be difficult.

The Wizards would like to improve their bench and find some relief for Bradley Beal, who is playing about 36 minutes per night. Reserve guard Jodie Meeks, who signed a two-year deal with Washington last summer, is shooting just 36.2% from the field and 30.6% from long distance.

There’s more news from the Southeast Division:

  • Despite rumors over the past week, the Hornets aren’t likely to part with Kemba Walker, according to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Bonnell says coach Steve Clifford seemed genuinely surprised to be asked about the possibility, which is an indication that it hasn’t received serious discussion. Walker, who will be a free agent after next season, is happy in Charlotte and considers it home, Bonnell adds.
  • Unrealistic expectations led to the disappointment over Malik Monk‘s rookie season, Bonnell writes in the same piece. Fans were hoping Monk could be a difference maker when the Hornets took him with the 11th pick in last year’s draft, but he’s only 19 and still needs a lot of improvement on defense. Clifford notes that an ankle sprain over the summer slowed Monk’s development.
  • Magic guard Elfrid Payton has been mentioned in trade rumors, but he is hoping to remain in Orlando and help the franchise improve, relays Spencer Davies of Basketball Insiders. Payton has shown statistical improvement in his fourth NBA season, but the Magic remain at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. He is trying to ignore the trade talk and focus on the task at hand. “I don’t get caught up into the things like that,” Payton said. “Today I’m an Orlando Magic. I play for the Orlando Magic and I’m gonna give them 100 percent of me. I’m somebody that likes to finish what I started, so I definitely would like to see this through and try to turn this organization around.”

Hornets Hoping To Engage Knicks In Walker Talks?

The Hornets would like to engage the Knicks in trade talks involving point guard Kemba Walker, but the two teams have yet to have any substantive discussions, league sources tell Ian Begley of ESPN. As ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Friday, the Hornets are open to moving Walker, though the star guard won’t come cheap.

Any potential trade partner with interest in Walker would likely have to be willing to take on one of Charlotte’s less desirable contracts — Nicolas Batum, Dwight Howard, Marvin Williams, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist are among the highly-paid Hornets who fit that bill. Additionally, according to Wojnarowski, the Hornets are hoping that the inclusion of Walker in a salary-shedding deal would help the club land a good young player or a first-round pick.

[RELATED: More Kemba Walker notes, rumors from Friday]

As Begley notes, it makes sense that Charlotte would view New York as a good match, since the Knicks have a talented young point guard prospect in Frank Ntilikina and haven’t traded away any of their future first-round picks.

Still, Begley is skeptical that the Knicks will be willing to match the Hornets’ asking price. The club was very reluctant during the offseason to take on any sizable long-term salary commitments in a Carmelo Anthony trade, and it’s unlikely that stance has changed. Additionally, in order to match salaries with the Hornets, the Knicks might want to include one of their own long-term contracts, such as Joakim Noah‘s or Courtney Lee‘s, which wouldn’t appeal to Charlotte.

Latest On Kemba Walker Rumors

Kemba Walker was the subject of a Woj Bomb on Friday morning, with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reporting that the Hornets are open to the idea of moving their standout point guard. While there had been some speculation about Walker becoming a trade candidate with Charlotte struggling, Woj’s report represented the first time the 27-year-old’s availability had been confirmed.

Asked today about that report, Walker acknowledged that he’d seen it, but admitted to reporters that he’d be “pretty upset” if the Hornets dealt him, as AJ Neuharth-Keusch of USA Today Sports relays. The former UConn star has spent his first six and a half NBA seasons in Charlotte and said today that he plans to continue putting his “heart and soul” into the team and the city.

“This is where I got my opportunity,” Walker said (video link via The Charlotte Observer). “Seven years in now, I’ve been here for seven years. I do a lot with the community, of course. I’ve gotten to know a lot of the fans. A lot of the fans have a lot of love for me, as well as I’ve got love for them. Of course I’m going to be tied to this place. This is kind of where I’ve grown up. This is definitely home.”

Here’s more on the Walker rumors:

  • Head coach Steve Clifford was also asked today about the report on Walker, and he sounded skeptical that the Hornets will move their best player within the next three weeks. “I’ll tell you the same thing I tell the players: Nobody has said anything about it here,” Clifford said of a Walker trade (video link via The Charlotte Observer). “It’s a rumor. … He’s our best player, he’s the face of the franchise, and I think it’d be very difficult to find a scenario where he’d get traded.”
  • The Pistons figure to have interest in Walker, with a source telling Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press that Detroit will “certainly look at” the possibility of a deal. However, that same source cautioned that it will ultimately come down to the Hornets‘ asking price.
  • Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic examines Walker’s potential fit in Phoenix, exploring whether it would be worthwhile for the Suns to give up major assets for the point guard.
  • Scott Fowler is strongly against the idea of the Hornets trading Walker, making his case in a column for The Charlotte Observer.

Hornets Make Kemba Walker Available In Trade Talks

The Hornets have shown a willingness to discuss star point guard Kemba Walker in trade talks, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowksi, who reports that the team has been encouraging potential trade partners to make offers. Charlotte appears “eager” to explore deals that would involve attaching Walker to one of the club’s less desirable contracts, Wojnarowski adds.

As Woj details, the Hornets have already made several of their other highest-paid players available in trade discussions. That list includes Nicolas Batum, Dwight Howard, Marvin Williams, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist — those players are all earning between $13MM and $23.5MM in 2017/18, and have at least one more guaranteed year on their respective contracts beyond this season. Batum’s deal is particularly onerous, with three more years and $76.7MM left on it after ’17/18.

By comparison, Walker is a terrific bargain for the Hornets, earning just $12MM annually this year and next. Despite the great value they’re getting on the star point guard, the Hornets have struggled this season, posting an 18-25 record and sitting four games back of the Pistons and Sixers for the No. 8 seed in the East.

With little hope of contending in 2017/18, Charlotte would head into the summer with Walker entering a contract year if he’s not traded at the deadline. While the Hornets would certainly like to retain the 27-year-old for the long term, they’d run the risk of losing him for nothing as a free agent in 2019 if they hang onto him. Moving Walker now, rather than waiting until he’s on an expiring contract, would likely result in the best possible return for the team.

Trading Walker would also signal that the Hornets are shifting into full-fledged rebuilding mode. It would be difficult to effectively move forward on a rebuild without dumping at least one of their most expensive contracts, so it makes sense that the Hornets would look to address that issue at the same time they explore the market for Walker. Still, attaching the All-Star guard to any one of the four players listed above would mean at least $25MM in outgoing salary, which may limit the list of Charlotte’s viable trade partners.

Walker, 27, has been his usual productive self for the Hornets this season. While his 3PT% (.349) has slipped a little, he has averaged an impressive 21.7 PPG and 5.8 APG in 41 games.

Trade Rumors: Davis, Favors, Mavericks, Walker

Anthony Davis‘ return to Boston on Tuesday night prompted another round of speculation about the possibility of the Celtics acquiring the Pelicans‘ star in a trade at some point. However, appearing today on Dan Le Batard’s show, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski shot down that speculation, suggesting that there’s nothing to the rumors linking Davis to Boston (Twitter links via Jake Madison of Locked on Pels).

According to Wojnarowski, Davis still wants to make things work in New Orleans, and that feeling is certainly mutual. It would take a major change in direction for the franchise to consider moving Davis, according to Woj, who reiterates that the Pelicans still want to re-sign DeMarcus Cousins this summer to keep their star-studded frontcourt intact.

Here are a few more trade notes and rumors from around the NBA:

  • Wojnarowski provided another trade-related tidbit on Tuesday during an appearance on ESPN’s The Jump. According to Spencer Checketts of 1280 Sports in Utah (Twitter link), Wojnarowski confirmed that the Cavaliers are looking to add size, noting that Jazz big man Derrick Favors might be a fit. Teams are calling Utah to ask about Favors, according to Woj.
  • With about $85.6MM in team salary on their 2017/18 books, the Mavericks are one of the few teams with the cap flexibility to take on contracts this season, and they intend to take advantage of that flexibility if they can, writes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. “I would say we are looking to use our cap space actively,” owner Mark Cuban said this week. “We will take back salary to get picks or guys we think can play.”
  • While Hornets point guard Kemba Walker is worth keeping an eye on as the trade deadline approaches, it doesn’t appear at this point that Charlotte will seriously consider moving him, as Steve Kyler writes in a Basketball Insiders article and on Twitter.

Hornets Notes: Clifford, Cho, Walker

The Hornets will welcome head coach Steve Clifford back to the bench next week, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes. The coach has been out of action with an undisclosed medical condition since early December.

Per Bonnell, The Observer has learned that Clifford has struggled with severe headaches since prior to the season and has been seeking to establish the best course of preventative treatment going forward with doctors.

When Clifford left his post, the Hornets were 8-13. Under the tutelage of associate head coach Stephen Silas, the squad went 7-11.

Clifford is expected to return for practice with the Hornets next Tuesday and make his first return to the sidelines on Wednesday night.

There’s more out of Charlotte tonight:

Southeast Notes: Oubre, Payne, Porter

The Wizards have benefited from third-year swingman Kelly Oubre‘s energy so far this season and the 21-year-old is earning a more substantial role with the squad, Chris Gehring of the team’s official site writes.

On a team built around core trio John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter, Oubre has managed to average 11.0 points, 5.6 rebounds and almost a block per game since sliding into the starting lineup. That spot in the first unit may not last but the impact Oubre’s had on the team could.

He has the ability, and at times last year it went up and down. But he hasn’t had those dips yet this year, though it’s early,” head coach Scott Brooks said. “He’s definitely improved with all of the hard work he put in.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • After going 15th overall in the 2014 NBA Draft, Adreian Payne‘s NBA opportunities have come few and far between. Now a member of the Magic, the Michigan State product is excited to earn another shot. “I haven’t really gotten a chance to play the whole time I’ve been in the NBA,” Payne told Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. “Being able to spend some time down in the G League, to work on my game, to get better, to just be able to become a better person and a better player, on the court and off the court. I think it is going to help me grow, and then when I get called up and be able to play with the Magic team, I’ll be that Adreian that I was when I was in college.”
  • Don’t expect the Hornets to make a play for somebody like Eric Bledsoe, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes. A lateral move to add another point guard to the mix alongside Kemba Walker wouldn’t be worth what the Suns would presumably want for him.
  • The Wizards paid big bucks to bring Otto Porter back and, to this point, LeBron James believes he’s earned his $107MM contract. “He’s worked on his game extremely well and he’s earned the big paycheck that he got,” James told Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Wizards, Jordan

The Hornets struggled to keep leads when their starters – particularly Kemba Walker and Cody Zeller – were on the bench last season. The question ahead of 2017/18 then, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer asks, is whether or not that will change this season.

Gone are all of Walker’s and Zeller’s backups, a veritable laundry list of players from Ramon Sessions, Brian Roberts and Briante Weber to Spencer Hawes, Roy Hibbert and Miles Plumlee. In their place are Michael Carter-Williams and Dwight Howard, both of whom were attained by the Hornets at relative bargains over the summer.

Of course the addition of Carter-Williams will provide size and defense to the Hornets’ second unit but the real draw is Howard, not because of what he’ll add off the bench but because of what his addition to the starting lineup entails.

As we’ve already written, head coach Steve Clifford has already committed to starting Howard when the season begins, that means Zeller himself will be able to work directly with the Hornets’ second unit to help do for them what he did for the starting five in 2016/17.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Wizards will have a number of players to replace Markieff Morris with when the season tips off. The forward is currently expected to miss six to eight weeks with a sports hernia. “We have versatility and we have depth. We can go in many different directions. We can go small. We can throw Kelly Oubre]in there. We can throw Jason Smith in there. Mike Scott we can put in there. There’s a lot of players that we can throw into the mix,” head coach Scott Brooks told Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic.
  • Hornets majority owner Michael Jordan will soon have a stake in another professional sports franchise. Jordan is part of Derek Jeter‘s group that has been approved to buy the Miami Marlins, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes.
  • Only time will tell how Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer and new general manager Travis Schlenk mesh over the next few years but the dynamic between the two could be worth watching as the organization’s priorities shift from winning ball games to developing for the future. Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes that Budenholzer will embrace the rebuild, whether that’s his preference or not.

Southeast Notes: Brussino, Crawford, Walker, Reed

Nicolas Brussino, claimed off waivers today by the Hawks, comes with a $1.3MM cap hit, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. The move leaves Atlanta with $8.6MM in cap space and 14 guaranteed contracts. The waiver claim means the Hawks will receive Brussino’s entire contract, which includes a $1.5MM salary for 2018/19 that becomes fully guaranteed on the final day of the 2018 moratorium (Twitter link).

There’s more news from the Southeast Division:

  • The Hawks‘ roster for next season is nearly complete, according to Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link). Atlanta still hopes to find a third point guard, and will begin that search next week.
  • Jamal Crawford gave up $4MM in his buyout arrangement with the Hawks, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. The Clippers sent Crawford to Atlanta in a three-team deal earlier this month, and he quickly agreed to a buyout that enabled him to sign with Minnesota. Crawford’s contract guaranteed him $14.2MM next season and $3MM for 2018/19, and Pincus says he accepted $10.9MM and $2.3MM.
  • The Hornets should consider making an offer for Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. He lists the pros and cons of offering Kemba Walker as part of a trade package, noting that Irving is a more prolific scorer, has much more playoff experience and is two years younger. However, Walker is a better defender, a proven fit with the current team and has a smaller contract. Irving is signed for nearly $18.9MM next season and more than $20MM in 2018/19, with a player option for more than $21.3MM the following season. Walker will make exactly $12MM in each of the next two years.
  • It was playing time, rather than finances, that ended Willie Reed‘s stay in Miami, according to Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Reed signed with the Clippers last week, accepting a $1.6MM veterans minimum offer. With their $4.3MM mid-level exception still available, the Heat could have offered more, but Reed wanted a guarantee of playing time, which Winderman says the Clippers were willing to provide. Miami signed Kelly Olynyk this summer and drafted Bam Adebayo, so Reed would have been in a fight for minutes with the Heat.

Southeast Notes: Hawks, Walker, Wizards

The Hawks‘ list of potential general manager candidates continues to grow, with Zach Klein of Channel 2 Sports in Atlanta reporting that the club is interested in speaking with Nets executive Trajan Langdon about the opening. Langdon, who currently serves as an assistant GM in Brooklyn under Sean Marks, was identified by ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz earlier this year as a front office “prospect” to watch. However, league insiders told Arnovitz at the time that Langdon may still need a few seasons with the Nets before he becomes a legit candidate to run an NBA front office.

[RELATED: Latest on Hawks’ front office search]

As we wait to see if Atlanta gets the opportunity to talk to Langdon, let’s round up a few more notes and rumors out of the Southeast…

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