Kemba Walker Rumors: Hornets PG Unlikely to Join Knicks in Free Agency

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJune 8, 2019

Charlotte Hornets' Kemba Walker (15) reacts after a basket against the Philadelphia 76ers during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Tuesday, March 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Chuck Burton/Associated Press

Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker joining the New York Knicks as a free agent this summer reportedly "isn't a likely outcome."

On Saturday, Ian Begley of SNY reported on the Knicks' plans to find another star player to feature alongside Golden State Warriors superstar Kevin Durant, who is also a pending free agent.

After Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported Thursday that Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving is leaning toward the Brooklyn Nets, Begley noted rival NBA executives also don't believe Walker is a reliable backup plan for New York.

The 29-year-old New York City native is set to become an unrestricted free agent after completing a four-year, $48 million contract with the Hornets.

Charlotte has a built-in advantage since it can offer him a five-year, $221 million super-max contract extension compared to a four-year, $141 million max deal from other teams, per Begley.

Walker told Jared Weiss of The Athletic in an interview published June 1 that his time with the Hornets has been the "most amazing eight years of my life" and he's hopeful of staying.

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"Oh no question, Charlotte's definitely my first priority," he said. "That's where I've been for eight years and that's all I know. Not many people get a chance to play for one NBA team throughout their career. When I go on my Instagram, I see, 'Kemba leave! Kemba get out of Charlotte!' People don't understand, when they say you need to go 'here' and win, that winning is not guaranteed anywhere."

Meanwhile, the Knicks were seemingly trending toward a combination of Durant and Irving in recent weeks, with ESPN's Stephen A. Smith reporting the two were likely to sign in New York:

Now the summer outlook is far less certain given the links between the current Boston Celtics point guard and the Nets. And it's unclear whether KD would make the Knicks his top choice if they're unable to deliver a second bona fide star to play alongside him.

Begley listed the Toronto Raptors' Kawhi Leonard, Warriors' Klay Thompson and the Philadelphia 76ers' Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris as other potential free-agent targets for the Knicks. He added they may also pursue a trade for the New Orleans Pelicans' Anthony Davis using the No. 3 overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft.

That said, what was setting up to become a monster summer for the Knicks with the rumored additions of Durant, Irving and a top draft prospect such as Duke's RJ Barrett is suddenly under threat.

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