Walker struggled in the Celtics’ first-round loss to the Nets, even before missing the last two games of the series with a knee injury. He shot just 3-for-17 on 3-pointers. Boston got outscored by 21, 18 and 15 points with him on the court in his three games against Brooklyn.
The Celtics might be ready to move on from the point guard.
league sources expect the Celtics to explore moving him in a trade to help create some current and future salary flexibility
Though he has declined from his time with the Hornets and even last season with Boston, Walker remains a fine starting point guard. He averaged 19.3 points and 4.9 assists per game this season with reasonable efficiency. The Celtics would be worse without him.
But Walker is due $36,016,200 and $37,653,300 (player option) the next two years. Boston projects to be over the luxury-tax line next season even without re-signing Evan Fournier or using the mid-level exception
Marcus Smart could play more point guard, and Payton Pritchard already looks capable as a backup. Smart (27) and Pritchard (23) are better long-term fits as the Celtics build around Jayson Tatum (23) and Jaylen Brown (24).
Yet, for all the same reasons Boston wants to trade Walker, other teams will be reluctant to acquire him. Walker probably holds negative value throughout the league.
That said, the Celtics won’t trade Walker based on his average value to each team. They’ll trade him to the team that covets him most. Perhaps, a team trying to win now will strike out on point guards in free agency and want to trade for Walker.
But it could require attaching sweeteners to unload Walker. At that point, would Boston just prefer to try rehabbing his value?
This is a tricky task for new Celtics president Brad Stevens.