The New York Times Marc Stein reports that the Boston Celtics are a “stealth suitor” for Kemba Walker:
The Celtics, I'm told, are emerging as a stealth suitor for Charlotte Hornets free agent Kemba Walker— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 25, 2019
Walker is coming off his first All-NBA appearance with the Charlotte Hornets in 2019. The 29 year old guard averaged a career-high 25.6 points per game last season. He also recorded 5.9 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game.
The All-NBA appearance made Walker eligible for a so-called super max contract with the Hornets. This deal would be for a maximum of $221,270,000 over five years. Given that Charlotte already has five other eight-figure salaries on their books, there have been reports they aren’t ready to give Walker that full super max deal.
If Walker were to sign with Boston, his max deal would be four years and $140,610,000. The eight-year veteran would turn 33 at the end of that contract. Walker played his college ball in New England, as he starred for the University of Connecticut.
In order to sign Walker, the Celtics would have to clear all of their free agents off the books. This means renouncing free agent rights to Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, if they don’t sign elsewhere first. It would also mean renouncing the rights to unrestricted free agent Marcus Morris and a host of restricted free agents including Terry Rozier, Daniel Theis and Brad Wanamaker.
Boston would be left with a roster of Walker, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Marcus Smart, Semi Ojeleye, Robert Williams and Guerschon Yabusele. The Celtics would also have their unsigned draft picks from the 2019 NBA Draft in Romeo Langford, Grant Williams, Carsen Edwards and Tremont Waters.
That’s a roster heavy on wings and guards and light on bigs. Should Boston go this route to sign Walker, they’d have the Room Exception of $4,760,000 to add additional depth, and would likely target a veteran big man. And don’t rule out Danny Ainge swinging a trade that either clears more space or packages together a smaller contract or two to return some depth up front.
Reports have surfaced over the last week or so that despite the Celtics preparing for both Irving and Horford to leave, that Ainge and Boston’s brass have no plans to rebuild. Both Ainge and Celtics governor Wyc Grousbeck termed this summer as “re-tooling or building”. Adding an All-Star talent like Kemba Walker would go a long way towards keeping the team in the playoff picture.