Kemba Walker

Pistons, Kemba Walker Finalizing Buyout Agreement

For a second straight summer, Kemba Walker is on track to be bought out. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports (via Twitter) that the Pistons and Walker are finalizing a buyout agreement that will pave the way for him to become a free agent.

Technically, Walker isn’t even a Piston yet. The Knicks have agreed to a deal that will send him to Detroit, but it’s not official and likely won’t be until after the July moratorium ends next week, so the veteran point guard will have to wait a little longer to officially become a free agent.

Still, if he and the Pistons have a buyout agreement in place, the team presumably won’t stand in the way of him talking to potential suitors in the hopes of lining up a new deal.

Walker is under contract for $9.2MM next season. The veteran’s minimum salary for a player with more than 10 years of experience projects to be just shy of $3MM, according to Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link), so Walker is likely to give up roughly that amount in his buyout with Detroit.

The Pistons intend to leave Walker’s dead money on their 2022/23 cap rather than stretching it across three seasons, tweets James L. Edwards III of The Athletic.

A four-time All-Star, the 32-year-old guard has been hampered by knee injuries the past two years. He appeared in 37 games for the Knicks this season, but was benched for a while in November and December and was eventually shut down in mid-February. He was limited to 25.6 minutes per night and averaged 11.6 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists.

Walker also reached a buyout with the Thunder last August after the Celtics traded him to Oklahoma City. He signed with the Knicks four days later.

Central Notes: Ivey, Duren, Beauchamp, Agbaji

The Pistons used the Knicks’ desperation to shed salary as a means of trading for Jalen Duren, James Edwards III of The Athletic explains.

Detroit rebuffed the attempts of New York and other teams to trade for Jaden Ivey after the Purdue guard landed at its lottery pick. Pistons GM Troy Weaver then used the Knicks’ need to open up cap space to make a run at Jalen Brunson against them, as New York traded the No. 11 pick to Oklahoma City for a trio of future first-rounders. A three-team agreement among New York, Detroit and Charlotte was then engineered involving the No. 13 pick, where Duren dropped.

Detroit was content to take on Kemba Walker‘s contract, which it will buy out, according to Edwards. It was a best-case scenario for the Pistons to land Ivey and Duran but they’ll still be big players in free agency, though not necessarily for Deandre Ayton or another big name on the market. They may instead add multiple veteran pieces.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Ivey said he’s eager to show that he has a mid-range game and can be a defensive force, two of the knocks on him going into the draft. Those were issues talked about in conversations with Weaver and coach Dwane Casey prior to the draft, Edwards writes in a separate story. “They talked about winning, and that’s what I want to do,” Ivey said. “We talked about setting a defensive presence when I get there and bringing back winning to Detroit. (Weaver) challenged me to be a great defender. I want to do that.”
  • The Bucks selected G League Ignite wing MarJon Beauchamp at No. 24 and GM Jon Horst believes that Beauchamp can make an impact with his defensive tenacity, Eric Nehm of The Athletic writes. “Length, athleticism, I think he’s got a grittiness and a toughness to him,” Horst said. “He’s going to have to work on his strength like any young player. … One thing about the G League is it’s a bunch of fast, quick, athletic guys, and I think he really held his own.”
  • Wing Ochai Agbaji, chosen with the No. 14 pick, gives the Cavaliers another quality offensive option, coach J.B. Bickerstaff told The Athletic’s Kelsey Russo and other media members. “I thought he could be a weapon. He’s got a skill that no matter where you are in the NBA, you need it,” Bickerstaff said. “He has the ability to put the ball in the basket, and it’s not just the ability to stand in a spot and make a shot.”

Jalen Duren, Kemba Walker To Pistons In Three-Team Trade

10:55pm: The Knicks have officially announced their part of the trade with the Hornets, indicating that this deal will actually be split into two separate transactions. The Knicks and Pistons can’t complete their half of the trade until Detroit opens up cap room in July.

9:47pm: Zach Lowe of ESPN confirms (via Twitter) that the Bucks’ 2025 first-rounder is headed to the Knicks in the deal. That means the trade, as reported so far, looks like this:

  • Pistons acquiring Jalen Duren and Kemba Walker.
  • Knicks acquiring Bucks’ 2025 first-round pick (top-four protected; from Pistons).
  • Hornets acquiring Nuggets’ 2023 first-round pick (top-14 protected), Knicks’ 2023 second-round pick, the Jazz’s 2023 second-round pick, either the Mavericks’ or Heat’s 2023 second-round pick (whichever is more favorable), and the Knicks’ 2024 second-round pick (all from Knicks).

9:29pm: According to Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer (Twitter link), the Hornets are receiving the Nuggets’ 2023 first-round pick, the Knicks’ 2023 second-round pick, Utah’s 2023 second-round pick, either Dallas’ or Miami’s 2023 second-round pick (whichever is most favorable), and the Knicks’ 2024 second-round pick.

All of those second-rounders belonged to New York, while the Nuggets’ 2023 first-rounder (top-14 protected) was held by the Thunder — it’s presumably one of the picks headed to the Knicks in the Ousmane Dieng trade.

Boone’s report suggests that the Bucks’ 2025 first-rounder will go from Detroit to New York rather than to Charlotte, but we’ll await further confirmation to be sure.

8:26pm: The Hornets will trade Memphis center Jalen Duren to the Pistons after selecting him 13th overall in tonight’s draft, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report (Twitter link).

According to Fischer (Twitter link), it’ll be a three-team trade that also involves the Knicks. Sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link) that New York is sending Kemba Walker to Detroit as part of the trade.

However, it seems unlikely that Walker will remain with the Pistons for long, as sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link) that the two sides are expected to discuss a buyout of the final year of his contract, which is worth $9.17MM next season.

James L. Edwards III of The Athletic first reported (via Twitter) that a deal was close, while Wojnarowski says (via Twitter) that Charlotte is acquiring the 2025 Milwaukee first-round pick (top-four protected) that Detroit is receiving from Portland in the Jerami Grant trade.

Meanwhile, Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer reports (via Twitter) that the Hornets are acquiring four second-round picks in the deal. The details on those second-rounders have yet to be reported, but it seems likely that most, if not all, of them are coming from the Knicks as part of the price for dumping Walker’s contract.

Duren averaged 12.0 PPG, 8.1 RPG, and 2.1 BPG in 29 games (25.3 MPG) during his first and only college season, earning AAC Freshman of the Year honors and making the All-AAC First Team. He won’t turn 19 until November after graduating from high school a year early, making him one of the youngest players in the draft class.

Point Guard Rumors: Brogdon, Knicks, Wizards, Morris, Murray

Although the Wizards and the Knicks are the two teams that have most frequently discussed a possible Malcolm Brogdon trade with the Pacers, people around the league are skeptical that either team would include its 2022 lottery pick in a package for Brogdon, says Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

If those league officials are right, that means a Brogdon trade could end up looking more like Portland’s deal for Jerami Grant. The Trail Blazers are giving up future picks (and a swap of 2022 second-rounders) for Grant, but aren’t including this year’s No. 7 overall pick. The Wizards and Knicks pick 10th and 11th, respectively, and will likely attempt to keep those picks as they pursue Brogdon.

According to Fischer, the Wizards have been open to discussing Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in trade conversations, while the Knicks have explored trade options involving Alec Burks, Nerlens Noel, Evan Fournier, Kemba Walker, and Cam Reddish.

Here are a few more rumors related to the point guard market:

  • With the Wizards widely believed to be seeking a trade for a veteran point guard, one potential target worth keeping an eye on is Nuggets guard Monte Morris, according to Josh Robbins and David Aldridge of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • Responding to rumors about Dejounte Murray‘s possible availability, Chris Fedor of tweets that the Cavaliers have had conversation with the Spurs about Murray dating back to the trade deadline in February.
  • Besides Brogdon, Morris, and Murray, some other point guards believed to be available via trade this offseason include Mike Conley of the Jazz, Terry Rozier of the Hornets, Devonte’ Graham of the Pelicans, and D’Angelo Russell of the Timberwolves, according to Fischer.

Stein’s Latest: Beal, Robinson, Gobert, Hornets, Atkinson

The comments made Monday by president of basketball operations Tommy Sheppard seemed to indicate the Wizards don’t have any reservations about giving Bradley Beal a full maximum-salary contract, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack column. Beal, who missed the final 33 games of the season because of an injured left wrist, is eligible for a new five-year deal worth a projected $247MM+.

Stein states that Sheppard had “ebullience” when talking about Beal and the chance to team him up with Kristaps Porzingis next season. Beal has to make a decision by next week on a $36.4MM player option for 2022/23, but it sounds like a long-term offer will be waiting no matter what he does with the option.

Sheppard said Beal can be a franchise centerpiece and notes that he has improved his defense and become more versatile since he arrived in the NBA. He points out that Beal can handle either backcourt spot, adding, “We have no problem playing Bradley Beal at point guard.”

There’s more from Stein:

  • While the Knicks would like to clear cap space before free agency kicks off, Stein has heard strong rumblings that they’re prepared to sign Mitchell Robinson to a new multiyear contract. The fourth-year center is coming off his best NBA season, averaging 8.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 72 games, and his minimum-salary cap hold means that retaining him won’t complicate any efforts to create cap room. Stein confirms a report that New York is looking for takers for Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel, along with Kemba Walker, to make a run at a free agent guard like Jalen Brunson or possibly Kyrie Irving.
  • Appearing Monday on Spotify Live, Stein suggested that the Bulls are the most likely destination if the Jazz decide to trade Rudy Gobert. He clarifies that statement in today’s column, saying Chicago has “ongoing reservations” about dealing for Gobert, while the Raptors are still a team to watch. Stein adds that Gobert isn’t considered a sure thing to be traded this summer.
  • In the wake of Kenny Atkinson‘s decision to remain with the Warriors, the Hornets are still in the market for someone with experience as a head coach, such as Mike D’Antoni, the other finalist, who is scheduled to meet with owner Michael Jordan today. Stein suggests that family reasons factored into Atkinson’s decision, as did the fact that Golden State was willing to pay him more than assistant coaches usually make.

Knicks Notes: Payne, Barrett, Kemba, Rose, Fournier

Knicks assistant Kenny Payne has officially been hired as the new head coach of the University of Louisville’s men’s basketball team, the program announced today in a press release. Payne received a six-year deal and will make $3.35MM annually, with his new contract going into effect on Monday, per Brett Dawson of The Louisville Courier-Journal.

During Payne’s introductory press conference on Friday, Louisville athletic director Josh Heird thanked Knicks management, noting that the team didn’t want to lose Payne but understood the hiring was “bigger than basketball” (Twitter link via Dawson).

Payne, meanwhile, said that he and Knicks executives Leon Rose and William Wesley have been crying “six, seven times a day” within the last little while about his decision to leave the team (Twitter link via Dawson).

“We are beyond thrilled for Kenny Payne that he will have the opportunity to coach his alma mater, Louisville,” Rose said in a statement issued today by the Knicks. “We wish him nothing but the best and thank him for his contributions over the past two seasons.”

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • With RJ Barrett set to become extension-eligible for the first time this offseason, Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News wonders if the former No. 3 overall pick has earned maximum-salary consideration, or at least something close to it. For his part, Barrett said that getting a long-term commitment from the Knicks has long been a goal for him. “I’ve been trying to play my butt off and do everything out there to achieve that,” he said.
  • In addition to not seeing any more game action this season, Kemba Walker isn’t around the Knicks at all and isn’t working with team trainers, head coach Tom Thibodeau confirmed this week. A source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post that Walker is doing some of his training in New York and some in his former home of Charlotte, where his mother still lives.
  • Derrick Rose (ankle) still hasn’t received clearance to practice, creating uncertainty about whether he’ll be back before the end of the regular season, Berman writes in the same New York Post story.
  • While Evan Fournier‘s first season in New York hasn’t been a huge success, the Frenchman is on track to set a franchise record, Berman observes in a separate New York Post article. With 201 made three-pointers this season and 13 games left to play, Fournier is just 17 threes away from passing John Starks and establishing a new single-season Knicks record.

Knicks Rumors: Robinson, Noel, Fournier, Randle, Kemba, Reddish

Michael Scotto of HoopsHype spoke to five executives about Mitchell Robinson‘s value as the Knicks center nears unrestricted free agency and came away the impression that a deal in the mid-level range ($10MMish) might be on the low end for Robinson this offseason. Generally speaking, the projected range for the big man was closer to $12-13MM per year, according to Scotto.

As Scotto notes, Robinson doesn’t have a perimeter game and has dealt with a series of injuries in his first four NBA seasons, but his ability to protect the rim on defense and finish around the basket on offense makes him valuable. The Knicks will presumably want to avoid losing him for nothing in free agency, which could give him some leverage in contract negotiations.

“One executive told me, ‘I think the Knicks re-sign him and maybe overpay to do so to keep him as an asset. It’ll be a tough negotiation given what they gave Nerlens Noel,'” Scotto told Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News on the HoopsHype podcast.

One exec told Scotto he could see Robinson getting $15MM per year if there’s outside competition for his services. Bondy has heard the Pistons and Mavericks mentioned as possible suitors, and Scotto agrees that the Pistons will be in the mix, especially if they’re unable to seriously contend for a higher-level target like Suns RFA Deandre Ayton.

Here’s more on the Knicks from Scotto and Bondy:

  • Scotto has spoken to multiple executives who believe Nerlens Noel could be back on the trade block this summer after popping up in trade rumors prior to last month’s deadline. Bondy, meanwhile, notes that Evan Fournier was one of the names the Knicks were “kicking around” before the deadline, indicating that he’ll probably still be a trade candidate going forward. “Given the right opportunity and price, he’s a guy they’d move on from,” Bondy said.
  • Bondy downplayed the Julius Randle trade rumors that surfaced prior to the deadline, suggesting the Knicks never really considered selling low on the veteran forward this season. “There might have been some calls here and there, but nothing ever got serious at all,” Bondy said.
  • Both Scotto and Bondy expect the Knicks will be able to find a taker for Kemba Walker this summer, though Bondy acknowledges they likely won’t get much back for him. “One GM told me he was concerned about trading for Kemba because of his knees and his limited availability on back-to-back games,” Scotto said.
  • Although Bondy believes the Knicks are open to trading Cam Reddish, he’s skeptical it will happen, since the team would be reluctant to essentially admit that giving up a protected first-round pick for him was a mistake. Reddish probably won’t sign an extension this offseason, but he’ll likely stick with the Knicks for at least another year, Bondy says.

Knicks Notes: Barrett, Randle, Mitchell, Grimes, Walker

The Knicks are expected to pursue a roster shakeup this summer, but the Heat’s Jimmy Butler believes there’s already a future star to build around, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. RJ Barrett impressed Butler and his Miami teammates with a 46-point outburst Friday night.

“He had a helluva game, an all-around game at that,” Butler said. “We all know he’s capable of that. I don’t think anybody is surprised or should be surprised. He’s definitely going to be playing in this league for a long time and he’s going to be the face of the Knicks.”

Barrett is averaging a career-high 18.6 points per game in his third NBA season, but Bondy points out that he’s still a streaky shooter and has trouble beating defenders off the dribble. The question for the Knicks, Bondy adds, is what to do about Julius Randle, who needs to handle the ball often to be effective and isn’t an ideal complement to Barrett. Bondy notes that Randle and Barrett have only reached 20 points in the same game seven times all season.

There’s more from New York:

  • Executive vice president William Wesley has been lobbying owner James Dolan with a plan to acquire a star and is focused on Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, a source tells Steve Popper of Newsday. There are some New York connections for Mitchell, who is a former client of team president Leon Rose and worked closely with associate head coach Johnnie Bryant when he was in Utah. Popper points out that Mitchell will make $30.4MM next season and won’t hit the open market until 2025 at the earliest, and any deal the Knicks could offer would have to include almost every asset at their disposal.
  • Rookie guard Quentin Grimes, who suffered a subluxation of his right patella in Friday’s game, will be re-evaluated in two weeks, the Knicks announced (via Twitter). Grimes was at the team facility today and was “walking around pretty well,” tweets Ian Begley of SNY TV, who adds that Grimes’ response to physical therapy will determine how much time he has to miss. Surgery won’t be necessary, a source in Grimes’ camp tells Ashley Nicole Moss of Sports Illustrated (Twitter link), and he will likely be sidelined two to three weeks because of slight ligament bruising.
  • The medical procedure that Derrick Rose underwent on his left ankle Friday won’t affect Kemba Walker‘s decision to sit out the rest of the season, per Marc Berman of The New York Post. Walker made the decision in the belief that he wouldn’t have a spot in the rotation once Rose returned, but a source told Berman that he’s unlikely to change his mind and coach Tom Thibodeau also dismissed the possibility.

Kemba Walker Not Interested In Buyout

Kemba Walker has already been bought out of a contract once since the 2021/22 league year began, having reached a deal with Oklahoma City that paved the way for his New York homecoming.

However, even now that he has been shut down for the rest of the season by the Knicks, Walker isn’t seeking a second buyout agreement, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said during an appearance on NBA Today on Thursday (video link).

“There are a number of teams who would love to have Kemba Walker in a buyout,” Wojnarowski said. “That’s not gonna happen. He’s not interested in that with New York.”

The decision to shut down Walker for the rest of the season was made by the point guard’s camp as well as the Knicks, with an eye toward getting him healthy for the 2022/23 campaign, so it makes sense that Kemba wouldn’t be eager to jump ship for an immediate role with a new team.

Walker also sacrificed a bit of money when he gave up $20MM in his buyout agreement with the Thunder and then signed a two-year, $17.9MM deal with New York, so he probably isn’t looking to do that again just six months later.

The Knicks have no real motive to pursue a buyout with Walker either. They’re not in urgent need of a roster spot, and once the offseason arrives, Kemba’s expiring $9.2MM contract could be useful as a salary-matching chip in trade talks. Wojnarowski said during his NBA Today appearance that New York will likely peruse the trade market for an impact player this summer.

“The goal has been – since Leon Rose was hired as president and William Wesley was brought into the front office – that they would be in the market for franchise-type players who became available in trades,” Wojnarowski said. “This isn’t a team that has cap space this summer, but they do have assets. They have draft assets, they have all their own picks, they still have Dallas’ 2023 first-round pick, which is protected. That certainly would have value.”

A player who is bought out must be waived by March 1 in order to retain his playoff eligibility for a new team. Once that date passes, we can be even more certain that Walker will finish this season with the Knicks.

Knicks Notes: Walker, Rose, Barrett, Burks

Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau isn’t sure whether Kemba Walker will be around the team moving forward, stating that those conversations were between Walker and management, per Ian Begley of (via Twitter). Walker did not attend Wednesday’s practice.

It was announced Wednesday that Walker won’t play for the remainder of the season and will work out in preparation for 2022/23. He’ll be on an expiring $9.2MM contract this summer, which might make it easier to trade him.

We knew there was risk involved (in signing Walker with his balky knee),” Thibodeau said, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. “We thought it was worth it. There were some good moments. If he’s healthy, he’s good. So, that’s about it.”

Here are a few more notes on the Knicks:

  • Derrick Rose and RJ Barrett were full participants at practice Wednesday and will be evaluated Thursday, Thibodeau said (Twitter link via Begley). It was Rose’s first day taking contact.
  • Although Rose’s return to action appears imminent, Thibodeau indicated he’d likely start Alec Burks at point guard, Bondy relays. “Digging into the numbers and stuff, Alec has been our best option so far,” Thibodeau said.
  • Barrett had no qualms about being on the court at the end of a blowout loss when he sprained his ankle earlier this month, Begley reports (via Twitter). Barrett said he always wants to be on the court and an injury like the one he suffered can occur at any stage of a game. “To sprain my ankle like that, it could happen in the first 10 seconds of the game,” Barrett said.