Kemba Walker was emotional during his return to Charlotte on Thursday night.
Walker was drafted by the Hornets franchise in 2011 and spent eight seasons with the team before leaving to sign with the Boston Celtics in free agency. His new team visited his old team at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, and Walker was emotional during introductions. You could see him get teary-eyed:
Warm welcome in Kemba's return to Charlotte pic.twitter.com/HWrvgahS5b
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) November 8, 2019
Walker wanted to remain with the Hornets, but team owner Michael Jordan has a strict rule about not going beyond the salary cap, so the team did not re-sign the three-time All-Star guard due to contract issues.
Walker was a really good player for the Hornets during his eight seasons with the team and left because the team would not pay him as much as Boston would. The fans understand that, which is why he received such a warm reception. He appeared to be touched by it.
Terry Rozier is reportedly heading to the Charlotte Hornets on a three-year deal.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Rozier has agreed to sign a $58 million deal once free agency opens, and will be part of a sign-and-trade deal with the Boston Celtics.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 30, 2019
It’s unclear if this sign-and-trade deal will include the Brooklyn Nets, which is a scenario that the Celtics were reportedly interested in. According to Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports, the primary point is to open up space to retain Al Horford while keeping their MLE.
Sources: The Boston Celtics are progressing towards a series of sign and trade deals to enable them to re-sign Al Horford, while also maintaining the full MLE.
— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) June 30, 2019
Rozier was leaving Boston as soon as Kemba Walker agreed to join the team. He has primarily been a reserve during his four years with the Celtics, but figures to play a bigger role on a Hornets team that will be rebuilding after Walker’s exit.
The Boston Celtics know they’ll be losing Kyrie Irving and getting Kemba Walker, but they’re reportedly interested in some extra maneuvering to help themselves in the free agent market.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Celtics are interested in a sign-and-trade that would send Irving to the Brooklyn Nets and Terry Rozier to the Charlotte Hornets. This would allow the Celtics to create a full mid-level exception to bring in another supporting free agent.
Sources: Boston's showing interest in a 3-team sign-and-trade w/ Kyrie Irving (Nets), Kemba Walker (Celtics) and Terry Rozier (Hornets). Boston wants to create a full MLE and would likely need to surrender at least a first-round pick to Nets. So far, talks are exploratory.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2019
This is why the Celtics have not yet renounced the rights to Rozier, a restricted free agent. Given that Rozier has interest elsewhere, he may not be happy about it, but with Boston still in control of his rights, there’s not a lot he can do. While not close, it’s a glimpse into the chatter going on behind the scenes to make all this roster shuffling work in an efficient way for everyone.
The Charlotte Hornets have the ability to offer Kemba Walker a contract that no other team could come close to matching, but they clearly do not value the star point guard enough to use that to their advantage.
By being named to an All-NBA team this past season, Walker became eligible to sign a five-year, $221 million supermax contract with the Hornets. They could also offer him a regular max deal which would be worth $190 million over five years. The most any other team can offer Walker is a four-year, $140 million contract. However, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith reports that Charlotte’s best offer to this point was $160 million over five years.
That means the Hornets offered Walker only $20 million more in total money than he can get from another team. If those figures are accurate, Charlotte’s offer would be worth about $3 million less from an average annual value standpoint than a max contract he could get from another team. It’s no surprise, then, that both Smith and his colleague Adrian Wojnarowski are reporting that Walker is expected to sign with the Celtics.
— Bleacher Report NBA (@BR_NBA) June 27, 2019
The Hornets have never paid luxury tax during Michael Jordan’s tenure as owner of the team, and it makes no sense to start now. They already know what they can be with Walker, which is a borderline playoff team that probably won’t advance past the first round. Walker may simply be more valuable to a team like the Celtics than he is to the Hornets.
The Charlotte Hornets have the ability to dwarf other teams with the contract they can offer Kemba Walker, but they may not be willing to give the star point guard all the money he is entitled to.
Shams Charania of The Athletic reports that Walker and the Hornets are at a “stalemate” in contract talks, and that has increased the likelihood of Walker signing with another team. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Boston Celtics are currently considered the favorite.
The Boston Celtics have emerged as the frontrunner to sign Charlotte All-Star guard Kemba Walker once free agency opens Sunday at 6 PM ET, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 27, 2019
We can probably assume that means the Hornets do not want to give Walker a supermax contract. By being named to an All-NBA team this past season, Walker became eligible for a five-year, $221 million supermax contract with the Hornets. They could also offer him a regular max deal which would be worth $190 million over five years. The most any other team can offer Walker is a four-year, $140 million contract.
It would be difficult to imagine Walker leaving more than $80 million on the table to sign with another team, but perhaps the gap between what the Hornets are willing to offer and what other teams can offer is not that large. Walker previously indicated that he wants to stay in Charlotte and would consider taking less than the supermax.
Kyrie Irving is expected to leave the Celtics when free agency begins, and Walker is the type of unselfish player who could thrive in Brad Stevens’ system. He is also close with Jayson Tatum and would have a much better shot at contending in the East in Boston than he would in Charlotte. The idea of Walker signing with the Celtics is gaining more steam by the day.
The NBA Draft is important for every team. It’s a chance to bring new, young talent into the organization. Teams that consistently get it right often line themselves up for years of success. Remember, before all the Kevin Durant hoopla, the Golden State Warriors were built almost exclusively through the draft process, with both Splash Brothers among the team’s first-round picks.
However, some teams need draft success more than others. They may be facing a long rebuild if they can’t keep the continuity going, or an even longer one than they’re already in if they get things wrong. Here are ten teams that really need to nail the NBA Draft, or the futures of their franchise could get quite bleak.
10. San Antonio Spurs
It’s been two years since the Spurs made it out of the first round of the Western Conference playoffs, a rather unprecedented drought for the Gregg Popovich era. The Spurs always find players somewhere, even as they lose veterans. LaMarcus Aldridge, 34 in July, is the next big name to face the aging curve, and San Antonio really need an infusion of young talent on the roster here. This will only be the third time since the selection of Tim Duncan No. 1 that the Spurs will draft in the top 20. To keep the immensely successful run going, they need to get the 19th pick right.
Kemba Walker has said numerous times that his top choice this offseason would be re-signing with the Charlotte Hornets, and he may even be willing to give the team a hometown discount to make that happen.
Walker became eligible for a supermax contract when he made the All-NBA Third Team this season, and the Hornets can pay him as much as $221 million over five years. When asked on Thursday if he would consider taking less than that to help Charlotte build a better roster around him, Walker said that is a possibility.
“Yeah, why not. I would be. I would take less, for sure,” the point guard said, per Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer.
Walker reiterated that the Hornets are his “first priority,” but he said he is prepared to play elsewhere if it doesn’t work out. The most another team can offer him is a four-year, $140 million deal, so New Orleans has a big advantage. Even if Walker takes less than the $221 million, he could still, in theory, make a lot more from the Hornets than any other team.
There has been some talk about the New York Knicks potentially trying to pry Walker away from Charlotte, but one report claims they may be fighting an uphill battle. Unless something changes, all signs continue to point to Walker re-signing with the Hornets.