Woj: Kemba Walker Plans to Sign Knicks Contract After Receiving Buyout from Thunder

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVAugust 4, 2021

Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker (8) looks for his next move during the first quarter of Game 2 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets, Tuesday, May 25, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Veteran guard Kemba Walker is reportedly receiving a buyout from the Oklahoma City Thunder and plans to sign with the New York Knicks.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Thunder bought out the final two years and $74 million on Walker's contract, and his deal with New York will become official after he clears waivers.

The Thunder acquired Walker in a trade with the Boston Celtics in June. OKC received Walker, the No. 16 overall pick in the 2021 NBA draft and a 2025 second-round pick in exchange for bigs Al Horford and Moses Brown, as well as a 2023 second-round pick.

Per Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer, the Knicks plan to offer the Bronx, New York, native a contract that will pay him around $8 million annually.

Walker, 31, signed a four-year, $140.8 million contract with the Celtics in 2019 as part of a sign-and-trade deal with the Charlotte Hornets that brought guard Terry Rozier to Charlotte.

Rozier averaged a career-high 20.4 points per game last season while Walker struggled to stay healthy.

Walker made the All-Star team in each of his final three seasons with the Hornets and in his first season in Boston. After averaging a career-high 25.6 points per game in his final season in Charlotte, however, his scoring average dipped to 20.4 points per game in 2019-20.

Still, that season was successful for Walker and the Celtics as they reached the Eastern Conference Finals before falling to the Miami Heat.

Walker's 2020-21 season got off to a late start after he received a stem cell injection in his knee, and he only appeared in 43 games.

He posted his lowest scoring output since the 2014-15 season with 19.3 points per game to go along with 4.9 assists, 4.0 rebounds, 3.0 three-pointers made and 1.1 steals. He also shot 42.0 percent from the field and 36.0 percent from beyond the arc.

The playoffs were especially difficult for Walker, who averaged just 12.7 points per game and shot 31.7 percent from the floor in three games during Boston's first-round loss to the Brooklyn Nets.

While Walker is coming off a poor season by his standards, a bounce-back in New York is possible under the tutelage of head coach Tom Thibodeau, who got the Knicks back to the playoffs last season for the first time since 2013.

He will join a veteran-laden backcourt that reportedly includes Derrick Rose, Evan Fournier and Alec Burks, plus he can aid in the development of Immanuel Quickley.

Walker also may not face as much pressure in New York as in Boston and Charlotte, given that he won't be counted on as the No. 1 scoring option since Julius Randle and RJ Barrett remain.

Last season notwithstanding, the Knicks are getting a proven offensive threat with career averages of 19.9 points, 5.4 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 2.3 three-pointers made and 1.3 steals per game.

The Knicks entered the offseason with little backcourt depth, but with Walker and Fournier set to join the returning Rose, Burks and Quickley, Thibodeau will have no shortage of options, which solidifies New York's standing as a playoff team.