Kemba Walker is no longer the most interesting free agent no one talks about. The 29-year-old Point Guard became a hot topic on Tuesday when Marc Stein of The New York Times reported that the Boston Celtics had become a "stealth suitor" for his services unrestricted free action. The chatter did not get louder until Thursday morning, when ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Celtics had "emerged as frontrunners" to sign the three-time All-Star outside the Charlotte Hornets. For a Celtics team that still wavers from the expected departures of Kyrie Irving and Al Horford
this would be a tremendous boost to take advantage of Boston's unexpected salary limit (by saying farewell to Irving, Horford and Limited Free-Agent Guard Terry Rozier, as well as through trading with the Center Aron Baynes and a selection for the first round of 2019 and the guaranteed salary that would be created) thus comes into consideration for future consideration of the draft night). But it would ensure that next season's Celtics will face an elite offensive weapon to the point of trying to compete in a crowded Eastern conference. (And if this point guard has a more positive overall effect on team chemistry, so much the better.) Nothing is done until the ink on the contract is dry – several reports have suggested That the Dallas Mavericks are also interested in courting Walker, and other teams could also call – but Woj reports that Kemba is increasingly likely to accept Boston's bid.
It's wild how fast Danny Ainge and Co. are panning after the announced exits from Kyrie and Horford, but what's even more noteworthy about the reports from Kemba to Boston is that the Celtics are apparently getting him for the same deal Irving in Brooklyn can earn (or, you know, wherever he lands) four years, a maximum of $ 140.6 million, starting at $ 32.7 million next season. This is not the top dollar Walker can earn. On the contrary.
Walker's selection for the third All-NBA team in May challenged him for a designated veteran-player expansion, colloquially referred to as the "Supermax." Under the terms of the 2017 Collective Agreement Over the next five seasons, the Hornets could offer their Linchpin Point Guard a new deal worth up to $ 221.3 million. As it turns out, however, they will not do so. Woj reports that Hornet's "Owner Michael Jordan [is] is no longer determined to grow financially enough to re-sign his franchisee," although Walker has publicly stated that he is willing to do less than to take the full Supermax to stay in Charlotte. the city where he has been at home since joining the NBA in 2011.
Maybe that's the smart game. As my colleague John Gonzalez noted in his Free Agency introduction, Charlotte would not have a successful future to pay through his nose to keep Walker. The Hornets have landed in Walker's career only twice over 0.500, and in both seasons, they were drummed out of the opening round of the playoffs. Even as Walker evolved into an All-NBA troupe and made a deal – a $ 48 million four-year extension to his rookie contract signed before the start of the 2014-15 season – Charlotte was the grumpiest of shoppers Do not get rid of the eighth seed and jump to legitimate disputes. What reason would he or anyone else have to believe that the fate of the hornets will suddenly improve significantly if it makes up more than $ 30 million a season?
Letting go of Walker is probably the smart game in this phase. However, the words "at this stage" play a role. It was predictable that a Hornets squad, lacking talented people who were concerned with Walker, could hardly keep up. It was predictable that Walker would wait for an astronomical increase if he came to the market. The worst scenario could emerge. As a result, reports began in January 2018 that Charlotte would consider relocating Walker if millstones had to be dropped and / or the list reloaded. This is, as we have seen again and again in recent years, the typical procedure, because you can not lose a star in vain.
Just go through the last five years of the All-NBA teams and tick the names of the players who made the moves. The Pacers traded Paul George in the summer before he could enter the free market, bringing back Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. The Spurs turned Kawhi Leonard into DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, and a protected draft pick of the first round instead of losing it in vain. The Bulls and Timberwolves traded with Jimmy Butler before he could go on the market, and both made good again.
Chris Paul wanted to go to the Rockets a year before joining the Free Agency. The Clippers made it and got a lot of players and tips for their experienced point guard. Anthony Davis wanted to go to the Lakers before he could make the free decision. David Griffin went to Costco and filled every corner in the pelican's pantry. Blake Griffin did not want to go anywhere but LA saw the opportunity not to end up in an oppressive team – the high-class version of the same dead-end Charlotte is currently facing – and turned it around Detroit to make room and charge fortunes ,
The Celtics dealt with Isaiah Thomas, rather than having to decide whether or not to outlive him, and catching Irving in return – who, for the same reason, moved the Cavs as he wanted to make sure they had something in him Exchange for to get their All-NBA Point Guard. It did not quite work out as Boston had hoped, and Cleveland does not necessarily have to think about returning Collin Sexton, Ante Zizic, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., Matthew Dellavedova, John Henson, and a few more second-rounders. picks. But it is better than to get away with nothing . (Even the thunder ended with Steven Adams when he decided to sell James Harden to Houston instead of paying the full load for his rookie expansion.)
But instead of taking that step, he gave Walker the job of The franchise set up for him The future held on to Jordan. He replaced Rich Cho with Mitch Kupchak and Steve Clifford through James Borrego and otherwise remained on course, keeping Walker in uniform until the very end. Now, the worst-case scenario seems to be only a few days away from its realization, and one of the best players in the franchise history is reportedly leaving the city.
Aggravating the situation: It's not that this is resolved. Things for the Hornets. Charlotte already has a guaranteed salary of nearly $ 98 million in books; Even without Walker, they will still work as a tax team with limited flexibility to add or retain talent. Nor can you just quickly switch to recovery mode. Yes, the eight-figure salaries of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Bismack Biyombo and Marvin Williams will all disappear from books after the next season, but experienced swinger Nicolas Batum will still be a $ 27.1 million option for 2020-21 hold. To win a team with maximum scope for this monster deal would require some serious sweeteners, whether young talents (Malik Monk, Miles Bridges, Lottery PJ Washington 2019) or future draft picks that would make rebuilding even more difficult.
A franchise star hurts too soon, but is not nearly as bad as waiting too long. And now pain seems to be the only option for the hornets. They did not have to arrive "at this stage". They opted for and they might have changed the form of free action and the competitive landscape of the East in this process.