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NBA Rumors: Knicks Trade Kemba Walker to Pistons to Help Pursuit of Jalen Brunson

Adam WellsJune 24, 2022

Jason Miller/Getty Images

The Kemba Walker experiment with the New York Knicks has come to an end after just one season.

Per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, the Knicks traded Walker to the Detroit Pistons along with center Jalen Duren, who was selected 13th by the Charlotte Hornets in Thursday's NBA draft.

Shams Charania @ShamsCharania

Knicks acquired Jalen Duren -- and moved him with Kemba Walker to the Pistons, sources said. <a href="https://t.co/kzyljkrFnI">https://t.co/kzyljkrFnI</a>

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Pistons sent a 2025 first-round pick via the Milwaukee Bucks to the Hornets in the deal. The Knicks' compensation wasn't reported, but NBA insider Marc Stein speculated that New York made the move to shed salary for its pursuit of free agent Jalen Brunson.

Marc Stein @TheSteinLine

The Pistons ARE getting Jalen Duren ... and the Knicks, more crucially for immediate free agency matters, are shedding Kemba Walker's salary to Detroit to help fund their free-agent pursuit of Jalen Brunson. <a href="https://t.co/DDs1fk3JGC">https://t.co/DDs1fk3JGC</a>

Wojnarowski also reported Walker could be bought out and become a free agent.

Walker was signed by the Knicks last offseason in what was supposed to be a triumphant homecoming for the New York native. He had become a free agent after receiving a buyout from the Oklahoma City Thunder, who acquired him earlier in the offseason in a trade with the Boston Celtics.

A slow start by Walker caused Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau to drop him out of the rotation Nov. 27. The four-time All-Star was averaging 11.7 points and 3.1 assists with 42.9 percent shooting in 18 starts.

After a series of injuries and absences because of health and safety protocols, Walker was put back in the starting lineup Dec. 18. He played much better with 19.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game with a 38.5 three-point percentage in six starts.

Walker became the seventh player in NBA history to record a triple-double on Christmas Day when he had 10 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists in a 101-87 win over the Atlanta Hawks.

NBA @NBA

Kemba Walker joined an impressive list of players to record <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NBAXmas?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NBAXmas</a> triple-doubles. 🤯<br><br>Draymond Green (2017)<br>Russell Westbrook (2013)<br>LeBron James (2010)<br>Billy Cunningham: (1970)<br>John Havlicek (1967)<br>Oscar Robertson: 4 times <a href="https://t.co/IPdVlWdSk5">pic.twitter.com/IPdVlWdSk5</a>

A knee injury forced Walker to miss nine games from Dec. 31 to Jan. 17. Durability has been an issue for the 32-year-old in recent years. He has missed at least 16 games in each of the past three seasons.

Walker played 13 of the next 15 games, averaging 8.1 points and 3.4 assists, but the Knicks announced Feb. 23 that he would be shut down to get ready for the 2022-23 campaign.

Wojnarowski reported then that the Knicks and one of Walker's agents, Jeff Schwartz, could work to find trade partners in the offseason.

Walker would be best in a role that doesn't require him to be the focal point of an offense at this stage of his career. He was effective with the Knicks, particularly as a three-point shooter (36.7 percent), but his overall performance was erratic.

Given the state of the Pistons' rebuild, it would be a surprise if Walker isn't bought out and allowed to pursue opportunities once free agency begins.

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