Hornets Writer: "50/50" Chance That Kemba Stays

Kemba Walker would like to stay in Charlotte, Rick Bonnell says, but it's far from a lock that he will

June 27, 2019 - 8:58 am
Kemba Walker Charlotte Hornets

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For all the talk about KD, Kawhi and Kyrie, Kemba Walker is among the most valuable assets in NBA free agency – and he might be on the move.

“He did say the Hornets were his first priority, and he did say that he would be open to the idea of taking less than the full super max – but he also made it very clear that he planned to visit other teams,” Charlotte Observer Hornets writer Rick Bonnell said on Ferrall on the Bench. “I left that conversation feeling like he was predisposed to staying, but it was far from a lock that he would.”

Walker, 29, averaged 25.6 points, 5.9 assists and 4.4 rebounds this season, but Charlotte might be unwilling to give him max-contract money.

“They’re not getting to the luxury tax to make this happen,” Bonnell said. “That’s just not even a starter for them. So I think that they’re going to come in below that 221 figure. I don’t know how far below, but I really think that has opened the door to other teams. I think it’s no better than 50/50 that he’s back with the Hornets.”

As Bonnell explained, the Hornets value Walker and recognize how talented he is. After all, he’s been an All-Star three years in a row. The only problem? The Hornets haven’t won even 40 games in any of those seasons.

“Their cap is so glutted with other bad contracts that they have really painted themselves into a corner,” Bonnell said. “Kemba or no Kemba, they’re going to be bad for a while, and they might need to do what the Hawks did and just get really, really bad for a while and develop young kids and have a horizon of like three years from now rather than trying to get this together. With him, they’ve missed the playoffs the last three seasons. 

“Doing what they would have to do to sign Kemba to a max contract is going to put them in a situation where – because Jordan is not going to pay the tax – they can’t do anything around him,” Bonnell continued. “If the Hornets do not bring him back, it’s not a reflection on Kemba; it’s a reflection of all the other problems on this roster.”

Click below to listen to Bonnell’s interview in its entirety.