What Is Kemba Walker’s Future With the Charlotte Hornets?
(Jeremy Brevard- USA TODAY SPORTS)
What do the Numbers say?
The Charlotte Hornets enter the 2018-19 season with a dilemma on their hands: signing Kemba Walker to a max contract, which would be in the neighborhood of $30 million plus per season, or dealing their best player and hitting the reset button on the franchise.
The Hornets currently have the salaries of Nicolas Batum ($25 million), Bismack Biyambo ($17 million), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist ($13 million), Marvin Williams ($15 million) and Cody Zeller ($14 million). That’s $85 million in salary to five players who all bring in more in annual salary than Walker ($12 million).
Should the Hornets Trade Kemba Walker?
It’s a very obvious NO! But the issue here really isn’t Walker, its the cash-strapped Hornets who’ve had a difficult time putting decent talent around their star guard.
Getting Miles Bridges and Devonte’ Graham in this past summer’s draft should help, as well as the acquisition of Spurs great Tony Parker on a two-year, $10 million dollar deal, but those kind of pieces surely won’t be enough to sustain real success with the Hornets’ cap issues.
Walker has made it known that he wants to stay in Charlotte. When asked about a potential move to his native New York City to play for the Knicks, Walker made his plans more concrete: “As far as seeing me in New York, I doubt it. I’m a Hornet, and I’m planning on being a Hornet for a long time, so yeah I’m not sure about that (New York).” - (The Athletic)
Trade Leverage for the Hornets
By not trading Walker at the trade deadline in February, or during the offseason, the Hornets have made it clear that they are likely to at least keep Walker until the 2019 trade deadline, if not the entire season.
When asked about potentially keeping Walker and extending him, new Hornets GM Mitch Kupchak stated: “Kemba is a player that we hope is with us for not only the next couple years, but ends his career here.”
Possible Options for the Hornets
The Hornets could ship Walker and an additional player(s) to get out of paying the luxury tax, but they have likely lost leverage in getting a deal where they could dictate the terms.
Shedding a bad contract or two could also provide much needed cap space that could be shifted towards paying Walker, but that could also make the team worse.
Walker, who is 28, is coming off of averaging 22.1 ppg, 5.6 asts, 3.1 rebs, in 80 games last season. That kind of productivity is difficult to find in the NBA.
What we do know is Walker will be a Hornet next season, but will the Hornets be able to keep Walker happy with the current roster in an even weaker Eastern Conference? That should be the biggest buzz in the Queen City heading into the season.