Knicks Trade Rumors: NY Didn't Pursue Kemba Walker Deals Aggressively at Deadline

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVFebruary 24, 2022

DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 8: Kemba Walker #8 of the New York Knicks looks on during the game against the Denver Nuggets on February 8, 2022 at the Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)
Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

Kemba Walker's tenure with the New York Knicks hasn't gone according to plan, but the team was content to ride things out when the NBA trade deadline was approaching.

SNY's Ian Begley reported the Knicks "didn’t aggressively pursue trades involving Walker ahead of the deadline." Walker is due to hit free agency in 2023, so Begley speculated the four-time All-Star might yield a higher return in a trade when he only has one year left on his contract.

The report added that Walker "was held in high regard by many players in the Knick locker room," so the benefits he provides to the team extend beyond the court.

Team president Leon Rose announced Wednesday the 31-year-old will miss the remainder of the season:

NY_KnicksPR @NY_KnicksPR

Statement from New York Knicks President Leon Rose on Kemba Walker <a href="https://t.co/n0dpbJd2zl">pic.twitter.com/n0dpbJd2zl</a>

Bringing the Bronx native home made sense in the offseason. While his performance had dropped off from his peak with the Charlotte Hornets, he averaged 19.3 points and 4.9 assists per game with the Boston Celtics in 2020-21.

The Knicks needed a point guard after Elfrid Payton hit free agency, so signing Walker was more than a sentimental move.

But it appears the knee problems that dogged Walker during his Celtics run were more serious than outsiders realized. He finished 2021-22 by averaging 11.6 points and 3.5 assists.

Things got so bad that head coach Tom Thibodeau briefly benched him.

StatMuse @statmuse

Knicks record this season:<br><br>16-21 (.432) with Kemba Walker<br>9-13 (.409) without Kemba Walker <a href="https://t.co/0cYLdoRrCb">pic.twitter.com/0cYLdoRrCb</a>

Walker is set to earn $9.2 million in 2022-23, which isn't a significant sum for a trade suitor to absorb. Another team might be able to convince itself he can still be a productive point guard after having had a lot of time to rest up too.

From the Knicks' perspective, trading Walker will still probably amount to little more than a salary dump, though, with how much his stock has fallen.