One of the first decisions new Boston Celtics president Brad Stevens will have to make is what to do with point guard Kemba Walker. It appears all options are on the table.
According to Brian Robb of MassLive.com, the Celtics will explore trading Walker this offseason in order to create more flexibility under the salary cap and improve their chances of re-signing shooting guard Evan Fournier.
"League sources expect the Celtics to explore moving him in a trade to help create some current and future salary flexibility and reduce what is currently set to be the highest tax bill in team history (if the team wants to re-sign Fournier for market value)," Robb wrote. "Marcus Smart is a useful trade chip but he only has one year left on his deal so his value is limited on the open market. One league source told MassLive that getting a late first round pick for Smart would be a challenge unless Boston took back an unattractive contract as part of the deal."
Walker has two years left on his current deal including a player-option in 2022-23. He's owed $36.02 million in 2021-22 and $37.7 million in 2022-23 if he opts in. The guard's contract also includes a 15 percent trade kicker.
The Celtics acquired Walker via a sign-and-trade with the Charlotte Hornets for Terry Rozier and a protected second-round pick after losing Kyrie Irving and Al Horford in free agency, but Walker's stint in Boston has been marred by a nagging knee injury.
Through two seasons with the Celtics, Walker is averaging 19.9 points, 4.8 assists and 3.9 rebounds—on par with his numbers in Charlotte, though not quite what Boston was hoping for when handing over a four-year, $140.8 million deal to make him the star guard on a title contender.
Robb noted the contract makes Walker one of the most "overpaid" players in the NBA, though that's hardly Walker's fault.
Regardless, it now becomes Stevens' problem to solve. The long-time coach isn't likely to retain Walker, Fournier and Smart without having to face a large salary cap tax. Considering Boston acquired Fournier at the trade deadline for Jeff Teague and two future second-round picks, it makes sense the front office would look to keep him in the fold for longer, if possible.
That just might mean the end of Walker's tenure in Boston. If so, he'll have lasted as long as Irving did as a member of the Celtics with the same number of titles to show for it: none.