Kemba Walker Rumors: Celtics, Mavs 'At the Front of the Line' for Hornets PG

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJune 25, 2019

Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker stands on the court during a break in the action against the Washington Wizards in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, March 8, 2019. Charlotte won 112-111. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)
Nell Redmond/Associated Press

The Boston Celtics have reportedly emerged as a suitor for free-agent guard Kemba Walker, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times on Tuesday. 

Stein initially reported the Celtics were a "stealth suitor." However, he followed up and said it was safe to "scratch" the word "stealth." Stein also mentioned the Dallas Mavericks, who have been linked to Walker for months, as a team "at the front of the line" with Boston. 

The Charlotte Observer's Rick Bonnell provided some additional perspective: 

Rick Bonnell @rick_bonnell

Two NBA sources confirm @TheSteinLine report that Celtics are seriously interested in @KembaWalker. I doubt the Hornets put this thing to bed pre-emptively when free-agency opens June 30. Plenty of suitors, and I assume Kemba will listen to all the pitches.

Walker has spent his entire eight-year NBA career with the Hornets

The 29-year-old Walker has been named an All-Star in each of the past three seasons. The 2018-19 campaign was his best one yet, as he averaged 25.6 points, 5.9 assists and 4.4 rebounds in 82 games. He also shot 43.4 percent from the field and 35.6 percent from long range.

Walker is not part of the elite echelon of free agents along with Irving, Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard, but the max-contract candidate is among the best pure scorers available and would be an ideal replacement for Kyrie if the latter departs Boston.

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported last week that Irving intends to leave the Celtics and is most likely to sign with the Brooklyn Nets in free agency.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski added that Horford is planning to sign elsewhere as well since he and the Celtics are far apart on contract terms.

That means the biggest thing standing between the Celtics and their potential pursuit of Walker is Rozier's status. It is more likely that Rozier will stay in Boston if Irving leaves, but Walker would be a more explosive option reminiscent of Isaiah Thomas when he was healthy and productive with the Celtics.

A core of Walker, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart would likely ensure that Boston would remain competitive in the Eastern Conference, although it may not be enough to overtake the likes of the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors, provided the latter re-sign Leonard.

There is also no guarantee that Walker would even want to sign with the Celtics, as he has been outspoken about his desire to re-sign with Charlotte in recent months.


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