Kemba Walker: 'Can't See Myself in a Knicks Jersey,' I Want to Win with Hornets

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistAugust 17, 2018

Charlotte Hornets' Kemba Walker (15) reacts to making a 3-point basket against the New York Knicks during overtime of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Monday, March 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Chuck Burton/Associated Press

As Kemba Walker enters the final year of his contract, he is still fully committed to the Charlotte Hornets.

At the National Basketball Players Association summer camp on Thursday, Walker was asked about the possibility of playing for his hometown New York Knicks. While he grew up a Knicks fan, he remains loyal to the team that drafted him, via Dom Amore of the Hartford Courant:

"I've been hearing it for years. Every time I come home, ‘When are you going to come home and play for the Knicks?' I know it's a special place, I was a Knicks fan growing up, always rooted for the home team. But I just can’t see myself in a Knicks jersey, only because I’ve only been in one jersey.

"I just want to do something special in Charlotte. I've been there eight years now, and we haven’t really been consistent as far as winning. I just want to try to establish that culture at some point. That’s what I want to do, I just want to make it a winning organization."

Walker played college ball close to home at the University of Connecticut. However, he has played only in Charlotte as a pro since being drafted by the organization with the ninth overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft.

The two-time All-Star will have his pick of teams if he hits the open market next summer. Even though he can't envision himself in any other uniform, a lot can change between now and next offseason—especially given how often he has been mentioned in trade rumors recently.

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"At first, it bothers you," Walker said, via Amore. "Who wouldn't it bother? Who wants to hear his name in trade rumors? But I'm seven years in—it's not the first time. It's something I've gotten over. What can I do?"

Should he get traded between now and the 2019 NBA trade deadline, perhaps his free-agency strategy will change dramatically.

Walker has put together a solid career with the Hornets. The dynamic point guard has averaged 18.9 points and 5.4 assists in seven seasons, posting 22.1 points and 5.6 assists in 2017-18.

Despite all of his individual success, Walker has not led the franchise to consistent success. The Bobcats/Hornets have made the playoffs just twice in his seven seasons. On the other hand, though, the team has come a long way from the seven wins it registered during his rookie year. It was just three seasons ago it piled up 48 wins.

The next six months will go a long way in determining Walker's future. If he remains with the Hornets past the deadline, he has his sights set on bringing a championship to Charlotte.

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