Kemba Walker signing with Knicks after Thunder buyout
Kemba Walker is coming home.
The Bronx native has agreed to join the Knicks and form a point-guard tandem with Derrick Rose after being
bought out by the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday, according to an NBA source.
The Thunder initially acquired Walker from the Celtics in June for the purpose of flipping him.
But there was no trade market for Walker given his max contract — a four-year, $140 million deal signed with the
Hornets that has two years and $74 million left on it — and recent injury history.
The 31-year-old’s play slipped this past season as he dealt with a left knee injury, playing in 43 of 72 games with Boston.
But the Knicks feel Walker, who played at Rice High School in Harlem and UConn, is still an All-Star-caliber guard
if his body is right.
“Even if he plays ³/₄ of the season, it’s a nice move,” one NBA personnel director said. “They have added two guys
in (Evan) Fournier and Walker who can get their own shot, which I believe was a huge deficit on their team last year.”
Walker, a four-time All-Star,
Walker, a four-time All-Star, showed glimpses last season, averaging 20 points and five assists after the All-Star Break.
But his injury worsened in the Celtics’ 4-1 first-round series loss to the Nets, as he missed two games and looked shot.
“The last thing you want to do is be injured and not be there in the playoffs for your teammates. It’s tough, very
tough. I’m a competitor and I love to play basketball,” Walker said after the playoff elimination.
“I do anything I can to help teammates win a game, and because I couldn’t do that I’m really down. It’s a tough
situation, but I have to look ahead. I want to continue to get healthy and get better. That’s my goal. I’m planning
on a big summer and getting myself feeling good again. It’s been awhile since I’ve really had time off. This is an
important time for me.”
The Knicks, who appear finished making significant offseason moves, have a very real possibility of maintaining
their fourth-seed standing if Walker returns to All-Star form.
The Knicks swapped out Elfrid Payton for Walker at point guard and upgraded Fournier for Reggie Bullock at shooting guard.
For now, the Knicks have no plans to waive the recently signed non-guaranteed deal of point guard Luca
Vildoza to increase their cap space from where it stands, between $9 million and $10 million. Vildoza is slated to
join the club for the upcoming summer league after Argentina lost Tuesday in the Olympic semifinals.