• Tim Hanna

2019 NBA Free Agents: Kemba Walker


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Overview:

The 2018-19 season brought ups and downs for Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker. After averaging a career-high 25.6 points per game, Kemba earned third team All-NBA honors for the first time in his career. Still, his Hornets failed to qualify for the postseason for a third year in a row

Regular Season Stats: 25.6 PPG, 49.4 2P%, 35.6 3P%, 84.4 FT%, 5.9 AST, 4.4 REB, 2.6 TOV, 1.2 STL, 0.4 BLK

Age: 28

Strengths:

Over the course of his career, Kemba’s offensive production has relied heavily on his ability to create shots for himself. His elite footwork makes it easy for him to get open, set his feet and shoot. Charlotte’s offense is particularly screen-heavy because of a lack of solid shooters on the roster.

Weaknesses:

The 2019-20 season will mark Kemba’s ninth season in the league, and the UCONN product has little to show for his effort. He has only made the Playoffs twice (2014, 2016) for a total of 11 games. This raises a red flag, as other free agent guards like Kyrie Irving and Klay Thompson have both had enormous postseason success.

Ideal Role:

Walker has asserted himself as one of the top players available in this free agent class. With that said, any team willing to sign him would make him their starting point guard and primary ball handler.

Possible Landing Spots:

Charlotte Hornets: After making third team All-NBA this season, Kemba becomes eligible to sign a supermax deal with the Hornets that would pay him $221 million over five years. If he re-signs, Charlotte would have to wait until next summer to sign another big-name free agent. However, locking up a franchise player in Walker is crucial for small market teams like the Hornets.

Dallas Mavericks: With the departure of Dennis Smith Jr. at the trade deadline, Kemba would pair nicely with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis as the team’s premier ball handler. Something may have to be done about Tim Hardaway Jr.’s contract to free up cap space, but they will have some flexibility come July 1st.

New York Knicks: If the Knicks strike out on signing Kyrie Irving, Kemba would be an excellent second choice. The Knicks plan on making a huge push in free agency this summer, so he would likely be joined by another superstar. Pairing Kemba with R.J. Barrett (projected number 3 pick) and Kevin Knox would give the two young stars a chance to grow under Kemba’s mentorship. And Walker did grow up in NYC.

Next Contract:

Kemba would be eligible for a 5-year, $221 million deal if he remained in Charlotte. If he chooses to sign elsewhere, it is expected for him to sign a 4-year deal worth about $140 million.

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