Kemba Walker spent just two seasons with the Boston Celtics, and apparently he wishes that it could have lasted longer.
Jared Weiss of The Athletic reported on Tuesday that the former All-Star guard was “heartbroken” to be traded by Boston, particularly due to his strong relationships with his Celtics teammates.
The 31-year-old Walker got sent to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for a package that included ex-Celtic Al Horford. Walker remained a 20-point-per-game scorer in Boston, but injuries limited his availability and overall effectiveness.
This latest report is interesting because a previous one suggested that the former lottery pick actually wanted out of Boston. But the Celtics flamed out this season and are in the midst of some big organizational changes. A fresh start for Walker as the leader of a young Oklahoma City team might be exactly what he needs.
An offseason of major change continued for the Boston Celtics on Friday, as they have now traded star point guard Kemba Walker to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Celtics have agreed to trade Walker, the No. 16 overall pick in this year’s draft and a 2025 second-round pick to OKC for Al Horford, Moses Brown and a 2023 second-round pick.
Walker was a massive free agent signing for the Celtics prior to the 2019-20 season, but he has had trouble staying healthy. He averaged 19.3 points and 4.9 assists per game in 43 games this season.
Horford, 35, spent three seasons with Boston from 2016-2019. He then signed with the Philadelphia 76ers rather than returning to the Celtics, and that move didn’t pan out for him. The big man was traded to Oklahoma City after just one season in Philly. He averaged 14.2 points and 6.7 rebounds per game this season.
Brown, a second-year player out of UCLA, is a solid rebounder. He averaged 8.9 rebounds per game this season. The Celtics have struggled in that department in recent years.
Walker is still owed $108 million over the next three years, which is why the Celtics had to take on a contract like Horford’s to unload him. Walker never fit in with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown the way Boston had hoped, and a recent report claimed he wanted out.
Kemba Walker is apparently ready to move on after just two years in Boston.
Bleacher Report’s Farbod Esnaashari reported on Wednesday that Walker and the Celtics are likely to part ways this offseason by mutual agreement. Esnaashari reveals that Walker was hurt by the team’s efforts to trade him last summer and no longer feels wanted in Boston.
The four-time All-Star Walker had very respectable averages this season of 19.3 points and 4.9 assists per game. But he made just 43 appearances due to injury, a common theme for him in Boston. Walker also struggled to co-exist in the offense with cornerstones Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
Walker is still owed a hefty $108 million over the next three years, putting a damper on his trade value. Esnaashari mentions the New York Knicks as a potential suitor for Walker, a Bronx native. But it is worth wondering if Walker has wavered on his previous stance about the Knicks.
The Boston Celtics are facing an offseason full of questions, and one of them likely involves the future of guard Kemba Walker.
The Celtics are facing a luxury tax bill due to the contracts of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, and may have to try to move another expensive player to prevent it from becoming prohibitively high. According to Brian Robb of MassLive, that player could be Walker. Sources told Robb that the Celtics will likely try to trade Walker’s contract in an effort to create some extra cap flexibility going forward.
Walker won’t be easy to move. He is due roughly $36 million in 2021-22, and still has two years remaining on his contract. He was limited to 43 games during the regular season due to management of his recurring left knee issue, which will probably be a factor for the 31-year-old for the remainder of his career. It wasn’t all that encouraging that he had to sit out the final two games of Boston’s playoff loss to Brooklyn for that reason either.
It also doesn’t help that Walker’s numbers were down a bit this season. His 19.3 points and 4.9 assists per game were significantly down from his peak years in Charlotte, and certainly aren’t numbers that justify his hefty salary.
Still, Walker is a respected veteran who has the clout to call out teammates when he thinks expectations aren’t being met. That said, it’s hard to see the Celtics managing to get anything of value in a Walker trade beyond salary relief.
The Boston Celtics dropped to 13-13 with a loss to the lowly Washington Wizards on Sunday, raising new questions about the team and its issues.
The Celtics lost 104-91 to the Wizards, who entered Sunday with the Eastern Conference’s worst record. Even worse, Boston trailed by roughly 20 points for much of the second half, struggling to make shots and occasionally showing frustration and getting back late on defense.
After the game, Kemba Walker seemed to suggest that the team simply was not playing hard enough.
“[We] just need to play harder,” Walker said, via Tim Bontemps of ESPN. “That’s it. We’re not playing hard. We’re not playing as hard as we know we can.
“When you play hard, great things happen. And right now, it just hasn’t been consistent, our play. So like I said, we’re going to continue to watch film and learn from our mistakes and get better.”
It’s not what you want to hear from one of your leaders at this stage of the season. The Celtics have lost seven of ten games, including back-to-back defeats against the Pistons and Wizards, the two worst teams in the East. They’ve popped up in trade rumors as they try to address their lack of depth on the wing, but the problems seem to run deeper than that right now.
The Boston Celtics surprised a lot of people when they signed Kemba Walker to a massive contract last offseason. The goal for Danny Ainge was to build a championship core around Walker, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, and the GM was apparently willing to abandon that plan after just one year.
Zach Harper of The Athletic said on “The Ringer NBA Show” podcast this week that Ainge tried to trade Walker for a top-10 pick before the draft last month. His intention was to use the pick to acquire Jrue Holiday from the New Orleans Pelicans.
Ainge reportedly tried to trade Walker to the Chicago Bulls for the fourth overall pick and Cleveland Cavaliers for the fifth overall pick. When the Milwaukee Bucks offered multiple first-round picks for Holiday, the Celtics were no longer interested.
What is perhaps more interesting is that Harper believes the upcoming season is a “make-or-break year” for Ainge in terms of how players around the NBA view him. The pattern the Celtics are following with Walker, who played through a knee injury last season, is similar to what happened with Isaiah Thomas, who returned too soon from a hip injury before Boston traded him.
“That kind of soured a lot of players on the Celtics,” Harper said. “I think Anthony Davis just wanted to be a Laker and there’s a whole Rich Paul connection, but I also think that was a factor … I don’t think it was a major factor but it was a significant factor on some level of, ‘Maybe I don’t want to be a Celtic.’
“I think if Danny Ainge doesn’t handle this Kemba injury properly in terms of getting him back on the court, if they rush him back and something bad happens to Kemba, I think players are really going to look at this Celtics franchise sideways.”
Walker received a stem cell injection in his knee this offseason and is going to be out until at least January. The news of the Celtics trying to trade him comes on the heels of another star player deciding he wanted out of Boston.
The Celtics have never been considered a top destination for star players in Ainge’s tenure with the team, which is why he has had to get creative with acquiring players like Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. If players become skeptical of how the team handles injuries, that could make life even more difficult on Ainge.
Kemba Walker’s first playoff run with the Boston Celtics was not as successful as he would have liked, and his general manager knows it.
GM Danny Ainge said it was clear that Walker was physically not right toward the end of the Celtics’ playoff run.
“I wasn’t there [in the bubble],” Ainge said, via Tim Bontemps of ESPN. “I was watching from here, but I could see, even when he was here before the bubble started — which is why he was shut down a little bit and doing strength training and trying to prepare himself for the playoff run and the intensity of the playoff run — but he was definitely not himself.
“In fairness to Kemba, he doesn’t want to say that. He doesn’t say that to our coaches. He doesn’t say that to you, the media. He doesn’t say that to me. I haven’t heard one excuse from him. But watching the games, even the games we won, even the games where he played well, I could tell he wasn’t the same physically as he was in October, November, December. So we’re going to try to get that Kemba back.”
Walker was bothered by a knee injury for most of the second half of the season, and it got pretty significant in February before the league shut down. He looked better in the first round of the playoffs, but appeared to tweak the injury against Toronto. He averaged 19.7 points per game in Boston’s series loss to Miami, but shot only 42.6 percent from the floor.
Emotions boiled over for the Boston Celtics following their collapse against the Miami Heat on Thursday night, but head coach Brad Stevens is doing what he can to get the team focused for Game 3.
Marcus Smart was heard by several reporters “screaming” at teammates after the Celtics blew a 17-point lead in Game 2. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Stevens met with Smart and Celtics leaders Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown late Thursday night in an attempt to clear the air.
The Celtics choked away a 17-point lead in Game 2 after blowing a 14-point lead in Game 1, so you can understand why tensions were high. Smart is the emotional leader of the team, and he and Jaylen Brown reportedly needed to be separated in the locker room.
If the Celtics can harness their anger in Game 3, they still have a chance in the series. The ugly locker room scene shows how much they care about winning.
Kemba Walker downplayed talk about the Boston Celtics having a heated locker room after their Game 2 loss to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals on Thursday.
The Celtics blew a 13-point halftime lead and lost 106-101. They were up by five points late and were unable to finish.
After the game, multiple reporters said Marcus Smart was yelling in the locker room and that objects were thrown.
Walker, who had a team-high 23 points, said the postgame issues were “nothing.”
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens and forward Jayson Tatum both chalked things up to natural reactions to a tough loss.
That type of reaction is to be expected, but there has to be concern about bad feelings lingering from Smart’s callout.
Boston is now in a 0-2 hole to the Heat in the series. Game 3 will be on Saturday, so there will not be much time for the Celtics to turn things around. They will have to do so against a hot Heat team that has gone 10-1 in the playoffs this year. Falling behind 0-3 in the series would put them in a spot they might not be able to overcome.
The Boston Celtics had very little to curse about during their easy win over the Toronto Raptors on Sunday, but Kemba Walker was still shown dropping a four-letting word on live television. To his credit, the star point guard felt badly about it.
With the Celtics leading 107-88 late in their Game 1 win, cameras captured Walker appearing to tell someone on the bench to “get the f— outta here.” Kemba immediately realized he was being shown on ESPN, at which point he covered his mouth and said “oops.”
It happens, Kemba.
Walker had 18 points and 10 assists in Boston’s convincing win. He was 4-of-7 from three-point range.
The Celtics have been managing Walker’s knee injury, and he expressed frustration with the way the team was handling it last month. He played 32 minutes on Sunday and appeared to be limping at one point, but the results were all positive.