There are some point guards opposing GMs are watching closely as we slowly move past Dec. 15 (the date all players signed over the summer are eligible to be traded) and into the NBA trade season. For example, teams are keeping an eye on Terry Rozier, but he may not be available.
Another is Charlotte’s Kemba Walker, who is off to another All-Star start in the East — 28.1 points and 5.9 assists per game, carrying the Hornets to a 6-5 start that has them in the playoff mix early in the East. Walker is also a free agent next summer, one who will have options, so the thinking is the Hornets may want to get something for him now and go all in on the rebuild.
Nope. The Hornets plan to make a playoff push, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Teams inquiring about Kemba Walker this offseason received the same message, league sources said: the Hornets are committed to contending for a playoff berth with Walker as the face of the franchise. For now, Michael Jordan has a strong desire to re-sign Walker as a free agent next summer, and teams around the NBA have recognized as much.
That tracks with the buzz I have heard going back to Summer League — the order comes from Michael Jordan, this team is pushing for the playoffs not rebuilding. New GM Mitch Kupchak is executing that vision.
It’s easy to say from the outside, looking just at the on-the-court situation, and say “tear it all down, they should rebuild.” As if that was easy (ask Orlando about how long a rebuild can take). But the other thing to consider is the market. Jordan has expended a lot of energy and good will to make the Hornets a good corporate citizen again after the former NBA owners in the city (first George Shinn, then Robert Johnson) ran the reputation into the ground. In a smaller market with a tight basketball community, there was a lot of work to do.
Now that things are looking better — with the All-Star Game coming to Charlotte in February — to trade away the face of the franchise (the trade deadline is before the All-Star Game) and commit to a lengthy rebuild is to strain that rebuilt relationship. For business reasons, Jordan is making the best move. Whether or not the Hornets re-sign Walker next summer.
Never say never in this NBA anymore, but this is one trade rumor that should be put to bed.