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.
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.
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.
Kemba Walker appears to have crossed some free agent suitors off his list.
Mike Fisher of 247Sports reported on Tuesday that the All-Star guard, a New York native, has no interest in a homecoming to the state. That would figure to eliminate the New York Knicks as well as the Brooklyn Nets from the running for Walker.
The 29-year-old Walker, who has spent his entire NBA career thus far with the Charlotte Hornets, is hoping for a big payday this offseason now that he is off a deal that paid him just $48 million over the last four years. His career-high 25.6 points per game last season should obviously help him secure that much.
A somewhat surprising new Walker suitor just emerged this week, and now it seems that the competition for him has narrowed at least a little bit.
The Boston Celtics may be dealing with a lot of changeover and at least two star players leaving in free agency this summer, but that does not mean general manager Danny Ainge is going to accept not being competitive next season.
Marc Stein of the New York Times reports that the Celtics are gaining traction as a “stealth suitor” for Kemba Walker. While they still have some major details to sort out, they could have plenty of salary cap space if both Kyrie Irving and Al Horford sign elsewhere.
Walker has plenty of history with the New England area, as he put UConn on his back and led the Huskies to a national title back in 2011. The 29-year-old is eligible for a supermax contract and has expressed a desire to remain with the Charlotte Hornets, but he has also given hints that money will not be the deciding factor for him.
Replacing Irving with Walker would be close to a lateral move for Boston. While Irving is a better player overall, Walker averaged a career-high 25.6 points last season and has tremendous leadership ability. The problems Irving had leading the Celtics this past season were well documented, so perhaps Walker would be a better fit.
The Los Angeles Lakers are getting Anthony Davis in the fold, but they know they’ll need more help to turn themselves into a championship contender. It appears they’re ready to pursue that help.
According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, the Lakers will make Kemba Walker a top target in free agency after acquiring Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans.
Neither LeBron James nor Davis are elite perimeter shooters. Walker is more of a threat, a 35.7 percent career three-point shooter who has come close to 40 percent on occasion.
The Lakers know that they’ll need more firepower. They might prefer Kawhi Leonard, but there are signs that he would prefer the Clippers instead. Walker won’t be an easy pursuit either, as he’s given indications that he’d be perfectly comfortable staying right where he is. Perhaps the opportunity to play with James and Davis would change his mind.
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.
The New York Knicks have cap space to burn this offseason and are expected to be heavily active in recruiting the top names on the market, but it remains to be seen just who they can lure to the Big Apple.
The Knicks are expected to pursue Kevin Durant, but will be interested in pairing him with a second star. If that isn’t Kyrie Irving, the picture becomes murkier. According to Ian Begley of SNY, other executives feel Walker would be unlikely to join the Knicks even if he leaves Charlotte.
That in itself is a big if. Walker has not sounded interested in leaving the Hornets, especially if they offer him the supermax deal only they are capable of offering.
Kyrie Irving was thought to be the superstar that would make the most sense playing alongside Durant in New York if such a scenario were to present itself. Irving does appear to be interested in New York, but with a different franchise, leaving the Knicks to contemplate potential backup plans.
Cody Zeller is trying his best to keep Kemba Walker in Charlotte … 25 cents at a time.
On Friday, the Hornets big revealed his funny, tongue-in-cheek campaign to convince Walker to stay — selling lemonade on a local street in the hopes of raising the $221 million necessary to offer Walker a full max contract.
Zeller and Walker have been teammates ever since the former was drafted by Charlotte in 2013, a span of six seasons with two total playoff berths.
Hornets fans will like what Walker had to say about his free agency in a recent interview, so the team may already have a strong chance of retaining the three-time All-Star’s services, lemonade notwithstanding.
Kemba Walker is one of the bigger free agents of the summer, but unlike some of his counterparts, he’s not exactly rushing for a move for a bigger market.
Walker said that his “first priority” is Charlotte, and he noted that the idea of spending his career with one team appealed to him.
“Oh no question, Charlotte’s definitely my first priority,” Walker told Jared Weiss of The Athletic. “That’s where I’ve been for eight years and that’s all I know. Not many people get a chance to play for one NBA team throughout their career. When I go on my Instagram, I see, ‘Kemba leave! Kemba get out of Charlotte!’ People don’t understand, when they say you need to go ‘here’ and win, that winning is not guaranteed anywhere.
“Charlotte is my home, man,” Walker said. “I’ve been there for eight years and it’s been the most amazing eight years of my life. My family, they love it. The fans love me. The organization has been great and gave me my opportunity.”
Given that the Hornets are equally interested in keeping Walker around, it certainly sounds more likely than not that the star guard will be staying put. It helps that they are the only team that can offer a five-year supermax deal. Those factors mean that, in an offseason that could see a lot of upheaval in free agency, Walker appears content to stay right where he is.
Making one of the All-NBA teams is not just a matter of prestige and recognition for basketball players. Now, the voting of these honors has practical effects on the money certain players can earn on their contracts.
In order to incentivize the best players to remain with their current teams, the league made changes that allow teams to offer more money via the “supermax” contracts to their veteran, often homegrown star players who either win an MVP, get named Defensive Player of the Year, or make one of the All-NBA teams in a recent season.
So who was most strongly affected by the All-NBA voting? Let’s take a look.
1) Klay Thompson loses about $30 million
Thompson has made five straight All-Star teams, but he did not make the All-NBA team. He also did not make an All-NBA team in either of the previous two seasons, which will prevent him from signing a supermax deal. Rather than being eligible to sign a 5-year, $221 million contract, he will be able to top out at around $191 million over five years in a deal from the Warriors. This is good news for the Warriors, as he will be somewhat cheaper to sign. They also can offer Thompson much more money and an extra year compared to other teams looking to sign him as a free agent.