Report: Kemba Walker “likely” to leave Hornets based on league-wide expectations

Kemba Walker
Jan 5, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker (15) reacts after he was fouled on a shot attempt during the second half against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers, by virtue of cap-clearing moves and a disappointing 2018-19 season, have placed a lot of pressure on themselves for the 2019 offseason. If the front office fails to find a second star for LeBron James, it will be viewed as nothing short of abject failure.

The good news is that there will be many stars available this offseason and with a good portion of them, it’s at least plausible that they will change teams, with multiple franchises maximizing their cap space.

One such player is Kemba Walker, who has spent the first eight seasons of his career with the Charlotte Hornets. According to The Athletic’s Sam Amick, however, league-wide expectations are that the point guard will be looking for a new home in July:

At this point, based on scuttlebutt around the league but without direct clarity from his side, it feels like he’s more likely to leave than stay.

It’s important to note that this is more speculatory than informed, given the context that Amick uses and the fact that he only included it in a fan Q&A. Nevertheless, it’s a fairly informed position and people around the league generally have a decent grasp for how the NBA landscape will change.

As for Walker, he will be 29 years old by the time he signs his new contract. It will likely be the last huge deal he signs, especially with his size being a concern for how he will age.

Walker’s recent tenure with the Hornets has been characterized by him putting up gaudy stats in All-Star seasons while the Hornets sneak into the postseason or miss out on it altogether. It’s easy to see why he may want a change of scenery despite what he means to Charlotte and his own comments about wanting to stay there.

Kemba isn’t in the tier of stars that the Lakers should and will aim for with Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and more also available. But he may be in the tier of stars that would actually be willing to come to LA after a disastrous season and play alongside James. He would be a great fit on the roster but signing him brings about risks of the contract aging poorly or the ceiling of the team being limited.

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