As his name swirled in trade rumors for the first time with the Hornets, Kemba Walker stated his loyalty to Charlotte.
“I would definitely be devastated if I was to get traded,” Walker said in 2018. “I do want to be here.”
But when the Hornets didn’t offer near Walker’s super-max salary, he left for the Celtics in 2019. He has since bounced to the Thunder then Knicks.
Done with New York for at least the rest of this season, where will Walker head next?
According to an NBA source, Walker has been training in Charlotte, N.C., his former home, and New York, shuttling back and forth. Walker’s mother still lives in the “Queen City,’’ and the Hornets could be a future destination as he played there eight seasons.
A key question: How will Walker, who’s due $9,165,471 next season, get to his next team? His trade value is sunk. He’s reportedly resisting a buyout (though that’s what everyone says until the moment a buyout actually happens). The Knicks could just waive him.
Even if Walker can choose his destination, I’d caution against assuming he’ll play again for Charlotte just because he still has connections to the city. Players commonly live/train in places where they have no intention of playing.
But Walker seemed content with the Hornets and has not replicated that elsewhere, not even with his hometown Knicks.
LaMelo Ball is Charlotte’s point guard – both now and of the future. Starting shooting guard Terry Rozier can play point guard. However, the Hornets clearly want more depth at the position. They signed Ish Smith then, after trading Smith, signed Isaiah Thomas.
Walker could fill that backup role next season.