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.
The biggest story facing the Charlotte Hornets this offseason will be Kemba Walker’s free agency and whether he’ll still be with the team going forward.
Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak said Friday that the team is all-in on trying to retain Walker, and will do everything possible to keep him with the organization.
This will be easier said than done. The Hornets just haven’t been a contending organization, and the chance to hit the open market and find a fit with a brighter future may well appeal to the star guard. On the other hand, Walker has said he wants to stay with the team, and they can offer him the most money. Will two playoff appearances in eight years — and no promise of brighter days to come — be enough to keep him around? That’s the big question.
After spending the first eight seasons of his career with the Charlotte Hornets, Kemba Walker may be nearing the end of the line.
During an open Q&A this week, Sam Amick of The Athletic indicated that the three-time All-Star guard could be likely to leave Charlotte this summer.
“At this point, based on scuttlebutt around the league but without direct clarity from his side, it feels like he’s more likely to leave than stay,” he wrote.
The 28-year-old Walker, who is averaging a career-high 25.0 points to go with 5.8 assists per game this season, was drafted by Charlotte in 2011 back when they were still the Bobcats and has been with them ever since.
The Hornets can offer Walker the most money and the most years when he becomes a free agent this offseason, which is big considering that he is coming off a deal that paid him just $48 million over the last four years. But the team has made the playoffs just twice in Walker’s eight years, both first-round exits. This season, they are tenth in the East at 29-35 and just got dealt a blow with Wednesday’s loss to Miami, a team they are competing for a playoff spot with.
Walker is a native of New York, and the Knicks will have a lot of cap space this summer and a need in the backcourt. Plenty of contenders would probably love to have him too. But Walker has been vocal recently about his desire to stay with the Hornets, so it’s tough to really tell which way he is leaning.
The NBA season is young, but a number of fascinating storylines have already emerged. Jimmy Butler got his wish and was traded to a contender. The Warriors have managed obvious tension between Draymond Green and Kevin Durant. LeBron James and the up-and-down Lakers are figuring things out on a nightly basis. The red-hot league continues to produce compelling storylines.
We are now a quarter of the way through the 2018-19 season, and a handful of players have stood above the pack as the best in the league. Who will win the top individual honor at the NBA Awards in June? Here are 10 early MVP candidates.
10. Victor Oladipo, Pacers
Last season’s Most Improved Player took a big leap when he transitioned from Oklahoma City to Indiana, and he’s taken another leap this season. The former Indiana Hoosier is back to his roots, and he’s become not only a fan favorite but also one of the most dominant guards in the league. After going toe-to-toe with LeBron and the Cavs in the first round of last postseason (it’s still crazy the Pacers didn’t win that series), Oladipo entered this season with newfound confidence. Oladipo’s two-way play makes him so impressive. Yes, he’s efficient and explosive on the offensive end, but he’s also one of the most dynamic defenders in the league. He’s averaging 1.6 steals in addition to his 21.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game this season.
Just two months ago, NBA fans were talking about which stars could change teams this summer. Now that those chips have been sorted, with stars like LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, and DeMarcus Cousins joining new squads, the league’s power dynamics have shifted.
The Lakers are suddenly a contender. The Raptors have new life. The Warriors somehow look even more unbeatable.
It’s early, and a lot could change this season, but we’re already thinking about which big names could be on the move a year from now. Here are the 10 best 2019 free agents as it stands today.
10. DeMarcus Cousins
This is a trial year for Cousins. He signed with Golden State for a few reasons: (1) he won’t have to rush back, as the Warriors are far from desperate to get him on the court; (2) he could win a ring; and (3) Golden State’s revered locker-room culture should present him with an opportunity to rebuild his reputation, much like JaVale McGee and Nick Young have previously. But he didn’t sign with the Warriors for the money — he’ll only receive $5.3 million this season. Cousins is looking to next summer as his opportunity to cash out and land a longer-term deal.
The Phoenix Suns made a rather curious trade on Thursday, but they’ve apparently been trying to make some even bigger moves recently.
According to Arizona Sports 98.7’s John Gambadoro, the Suns have tried to trade for several high-profile point guards this summer. Those include Portland’s Damian Lillard, Charlotte’s Kemba Walker, and Boston’s Terry Rozier.
Obviously, nothing came of any of this. It’s an indication that the Suns are trying to be aggressive and are well aware of their need for a point guard, but they simply don’t have the assets — at least, not ones they’re willing to give up. Instead, they’ve made moves like this one to reset the organization.
Kemba Walker isn’t itching for a homecoming in New York. In fact, he wants to stick around Charlotte for a while.
With the Hornets point guard entering the final year of his contract, there is doubt about Walker’s long-term future in Charlotte. It’s particularly true as he’s a New York native, and some have whispered about a homecoming with the Knicks.
Don’t count on it, says Walker.
“As far as seeing me in New York, I doubt it,” Walker said, via Michael Scotto of The Athletic. “I’m a Hornet, and I’m planning on being a Hornet for a long time, so, yeah, I’m not sure about that.
“I’m not planning to leave, no. It’s not up to me right now.”
Walker has made it quite clear that he’s happy in Charlotte and absolutely does not want to leave. Of course, he may not have a choice if the Hornets decide to get some assets for him, but right now, he’s content to remain a Hornet.