What does the future hold for Kemba Walker?
After the Celtics traded the 31-year-old All-Star point guard to the Thunder on Friday, it’s hard not to question how he’ll fit with a team that’s in the early stages of a complete rebuild.
Boston sent Walker to Oklahoma City in a package that included the 16th pick in July’s NBA draft and a 2025 second-round selection for Al Horford, Moses Brown and a 2023 second-round pick.
Depending on how OKC dives into its rebuild, after a 22-50 record this season, it’s possible Walker could be dealt again. The Thunder continue to stack assets and have two potential top five picks.
Following the trade news, one NBA exec said a “Kemba-for-[Kristaps] Porzingis next year seems inevitable,” according to Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix.
Porzingis is reportedly frustrated with his role in the Mavericks lineup. The five-year veterin is coming off a mediocre playoff run in 2021, and a poor defensive season. Though, he had a strong offensive season, averaging 20.1 points per game.
The Mavericks big man just completed the second season of his five-year, $158 million contract. If he exercises the player option, he will still be owed $101 million over three years.
Right now, the mood in Dallas is somber. GM Donnie Nelson parted ways with the organization after 24 years, as did coach Rick Carlisle, who informed the team this week he would not be returning for a 14th season.
On Friday, Mavericks Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki joined the team as special advisor at the request of owner Mark Cuban — who recently denied there is a rift between franchise face Luka Doncic and Haralabos Voulgaris, the team’s director of quantitative research and development.
Nowitzki’s first assignment in Dallas will include assisting the team in its search for a new head of basketball operations and head coach.
The Celtics acquired Walker in a sign-and-trade with the Hornets in June 2019, when he agreed to a four-year, $141 million deal.
At the time, Walker was coming off his best season in Charlotte, averaging 25.6 points while playing in all 82 regular-season games in the 2018-19 season.
Boston had considered Walker to be their savior after Kyrie Irving’s tumultuous exit, leaving them in a point guard drought.
While it seemed as though things were going well, the team couldn’t get over plateaued playoff runs with Walker. Then, knee injuries kept him sidelined for most of 2020.
The Celtics’ trade was mostly based on where he is physically — not about his character, talent or relationships with the team, according to ESPN. Dealing Walker was reportedly more about looking at the way his contract impacted their cap.
The trade marked Brad Stevens’ first big move since being promoted from Boston’s head coach to GM after Danny Ainge exited the position. The front office shakeup occurred one day after Boston’s five-game exit in the first round of the playoffs against the Nets.