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Kemba Walker says he’d accept less than super-max contract to help Hornets


The Hornets are Kemba Walker‘s priority. Walker is the Hornets’ priority.

It looks like a match.

Walker can re-sign with Charlotte on a five-year super-max contract projected to be worth $221 million. He earned super-max eligibility by making an All-NBA team this season. Players generally want to be rewarded for that accomplishment, both for the money and the prestige.

But Walker sounds open to concessions.

Rod Boone of The Athletic:

Not everyone has the heart for a tough contract negotiation (which differs from the heart necessary to succeed as a player, of which Walker has plenty). It can be especially difficult to publicly put personal salary demands over team success.

But this is why players hire agents, to do that dirty work.

Remember, Walker wanted to accept even less on his current contract extension. His agent talked him out of it. We’ll see how hard Walker pushes in free agency this summer, but he’ll have an advisor more focused on the bottom line.

Walker can do whatever he wants. If he’s happy getting paid less, more power to him.

But he should be careful about getting played for a sucker.

Charlotte will be capped out, with or without him. If Walker accepts less than the max, the Hornets will open no additional cap space. They’ll still be limited to the mid-level exception. The main spending limits will be real dollar, not salary-cap constraints.

Under Michael Jordan’s ownership, the Hornets have never paid the luxury tax. They could super-max-out Walker and still build similarly around him – if they were willing to pay more. Why should the burden of funding the supporting cast fall to Walker? When has Charlotte shown a willingness to make the financial sacrifice in the name of winning?

Walker taking a discount could help more in future years, but he’s in his prime. He surely wants to win now. I wouldn’t trust the Hornets to take advantage of a little extra flexibility at some unknown point down the road.

Knicks rookie R.J. Barrett out at least a week with right ankle sprain

R.J. Barrett
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NEW YORK (AP) New York Knicks rookie R.J. Barrett will miss at least a week with a sprained right ankle.

Barrett was hurt during the Knicks’ loss to Phoenix on Thursday. On Friday, he had X-rays, which were negative.

The Knicks announced afterward that Barrett will be re-evaluated in a week.

The No. 3 pick in the draft from Duke is averaging 14.1 points.

Heat: Justise Winslow out at least two more weeks

Justise Winslow
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MIAMI (AP) — The Miami Heat say Justise Winslow will miss at least two more weeks while recovering from a back injury.

Winslow has played only once since Dec. 4 and is slated to be out for at least the remainder of January. The team originally called Winslow’s injury a back strain, then updated the diagnosis to a bone bruise.

Winslow played off the bench in Miami’s win at Indiana on Jan. 8. The team said the back problems reappeared after that game. He has not played since.

Friday’s game in Oklahoma City is Miami’s 41st of the season and the 30th that Winslow has missed. He’s averaging 11.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.0 assists for the Heat this season.

Kevin Huerter’s 3-pointer gives Hawks first win in San Antonio in his lifetime (video)

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The Hawks beat the Spurs in San Antonio on Feb. 15, 1997.

The next year, Kevin Huerter was born.

Atlanta’s next win in San Antonio came Friday, when Huerter hit the game-winning 3-pointer in a 121-120 win.

The Hawks’ losing streak in San Antonio spanned Tim Duncan’s entire lengthy career – and continued a few seasons beyond that. The only reprieve came during the lockout-shortened 1999 season, when Atlanta didn’t visit San Antonio. So, the skid lasted 21 games.

Buddy Hield on Kings getting booed at home: ‘That’s how Sacramento fans are’

Kings guard Buddy Hield
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Buddy Hield is quite familiar with frustration amid the Kings’ disappointing season.

Sacramento fans showed theirs Wednesday, booing the Kings during their home loss to the Mavericks.

Buddy Hield, via James Ham of NBC Sports California:

“Everybody is frustrated, it’s not even them, we’re trying to figure it out too,” Buddy Hield said following the loss. “But it’s the home team and we get booed…we don’t agree with it, but they’re going to voice their opinion.

“I understand their frustration, but like I said, I’m going to keep shooting the ball,” Hield continued. “When I make a three they like me, when I don’t, they hate you. That’s how Sacramento fans are, man, so you’ve got to embrace it.”

Hield seemingly isn’t looking to pick a fight with fans. He made a point to empathize with their frustration.

But I don’t think he’s being fair, either.

Kings fans are far more loyal than swinging between love and hate depending whether or not a shot falls. They’re fed up after 13 – going on 14 – straight seasons missing the playoffs. This year has been particularly discouraging, as Sacramento has backtracked from fun and fast to sad and slow. Losing to Luka Doncica particular grievance – only adds to the irritation.

The Kings’ problems have spanned multiple owners, executives, coaches and players. So, booing this group isn’t totally fair, either. But this is who’s in front of the fans.

If this Sacramento team plays hard and together, fans will embrace it – and stick with it through thinner times.