Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker has been compared to Kobe Bryant for his competitive zeal. Is a player with Walker’s makeup receptive to riding out another major rebuild? “I’m not sure. Nobody wants to lose. Especially not me,” Walker said at practice Friday, following the Hornets’ fifth consecutive loss Thursday, at home against the Brooklyn Nets.
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Walker said he and his teammates haven’t talked much, if at all, about what might come next once this season is completed in mid-April. “I haven’t thought about any of that,” Walker said. “It’s something I’ve got to deal with whenever it happens. It’s just not something that has come up to me.”
Polk said it’s a “concern” Walker will likely have to reach unrestricted free-agency before he could be re-signed, but that’s a function of the rules. “We love Kemba Walker,” Polk said. “We would like nothing more than for Kemba to end his career here.”
Kemba Walker didn’t want his second All-Star appearance to come this way. But he’ll take it. Now the native New Yorker just hopes to be in Charlotte next February as host when the All-Star Game is held there. Widespread reports had the Hornets shopping Walker, though the Knicks went with Emmanuel Mudiay instead with an eye on their 2019 cap space. “I think I’ll still be there,’’ Walker told The Post with a smile.
ESPN Cleveland: “The Cavs were absolutely talking about getting Kemba Walker. The deal that they made with the Lakers was probably close to the package that they were offering for Kemba. The Hornets wanted the Cavs to include the BKN pick or take on more money.” – @Brian Windhorst
Rick Bonnell: Kemba is on the floor at the Moda Center for shootaround.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Cleveland is staying persistent in trying to construct a Kemba Walker deal, but there remains no traction there, league sources tell ESPN. MIchael Jordan isn’t easily parting with Walker.
The Hornets continue to field calls on Kemba Walker, but no Walker deal gets done unless a team absorbs one of the handful of bad contracts on Charlotte’s roster, sources said. Another variable at play: The future of GM Rich Cho. Cho is in the final year of his contract and there have been rumblings that former Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak is a favorite among high-ranking team officials to take over next summer. If Hornets owner Michael Jordan is resolved to replace Cho, he may not sign off on dealing Charlotte’s most appealing asset.
The growing concern over max deals has created a ripple effect heading into the trade deadline. Execs and agents I spoke to believe it explains the rise in trade chatter involving stars. Teams are more regularly gauging the value of their own centerpieces, and other teams are making more calls knowing they’ll listen. It’s why we’re hearing reports about Aaron Gordon and Kemba Walker being available.
Walker was devastated – his word – when he learned of ESPN’s initial report that the Hornets were canvassing the league for his trade value. Jordan looked to mitigate the damage when he called me a few days later to say the Hornets weren’t “shopping” Walker, and it would take an irresistible offer to justify moving him.
Walker wants to be here, to be part of the solution that makes this team competitive in the postseason. He’s loyal, he’s passionate, and as Gentry described, he has a competitive streak that is rare even by the standard of the most elite NBA players.
The Pacers are one of at least six teams who could be potential trade partners. Did Walker enter Monday night’s game thinking that Bankers Life Fieldhouse would soon be his home arena? “Nah, that’s not something I’m thinking about,” said Walker, smiling after the Hornets’ shootaround on Monday. “I just control what I can control. Try to play for my teammates and coaching staff, and win, that’s the most important thing. Trade rumors and stuff like that, that’s something I couldn’t control. I just try to look past it and play.”
John Wernz: Any scenario for Wolves to go after Kemba now that Teague can be traded? #Wolves Darren Wolfson: Charlotte doesn’t want to take on Teague’s contract. If they move Walker, they are looking for a ton. Doesn’t sound like much is churning on the #Twolves trade front. Maybe things change closer to Feb. 8. #AllEyesNorth
Because of the depth at point guard, in particular, McDonough indicated it’s less likely Phoenix will make a move for a veteran point guard before the Feb. 8 deadline. Charlotte’s Kemba Walker has been mentioned as a possibility, but he’s 27 and his contract expires after the 2018-19 season. “If we can make any moves there that could help us in the short-term solution, we’ll look at that,” McDonough said, “but I think (we’re more interested) in a long-term solution.”
When news that Charlotte’s Kemba Walker might be available broke, Knicks fans pegged him as someone to go all-in for, however, Knicks sources say there was due diligence done there, but nothing got very far. The Hornets have been quick to downplay a willingness to move Walker, which likely is why the Knicks talk didn’t get very far.
Marc Stein: The Bucks were among the teams that engaged Charlotte in Kemba Walker trade talks before Michael Jordan’s pronouncement that he’d rather not deal Walker, according to league sources.
Charlotte Hornets majority owner Michael Jordan said Monday night he’s not looking to trade point guard Kemba Walker, and would do so only if the return included a major All-Star, such as the San Antonio Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard. In an exclusive telephone interview with the Charlotte Observer, following the Hornets’ 112-107 home victory over the Sacramento Kings, Jordan said he’s disappointed with his team’s 19-26 start, but has not given up on the chances of reaching the playoffs this season. The Hornets have the 12th-highest payroll in the NBA this season at more than $116 million, and Jordan had aspirations for the team to earn home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Jordan acknowledged there have been discussions with other teams, some initiated by the Hornets’ front office, but that he isn’t looking to lose Walker, clearly the team’s most talented and productive player and an All-Star last season.
“We bred him, we chose him, we groomed him to be a good player for us,” Jordan said of Walker, who the Hornets drafted ninth overall in 2011, to a great extent because Jordan saw traits in Walker that reminded him of his own playing career. “I’m not looking to trade Kemba, but I would listen to opportunities.”
Jordan said he reached out to Walker Friday, after these reports became public, to reassure Walker the Hornets are not predisposed to moving him. “Obviously, the season has been a disappointment so far, and there have been teams asking about players. Also, we’ve been asking about players,” Jordan said, with the NBA’s trade deadline looming Feb. 8. “We ask teams who they like on our roster and they always say Kemba.
The Charlotte Hornets would like engage the Knicks on trade discussions involving All-Star point guard Kemba Walker but New York and Charlotte haven’t yet had substantive discussions about a trade involving Walker, per league sources. It seems unlikely at this point that the Knicks will want to meet Charlotte’s desired return. Charlotte is hoping a Walker trade returns a good young player or a first-round pick, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The Knicks have first-round draft picks and a promising young player in Frank Ntilikina. But the other part of Charlotte’s request is a holdup for the Knicks. Wojnarowski reports that Charlotte appears eager to shed one of its less desirable contracts. That would mean the Knicks would likely need to take on extra salary to acquire Walker, which was something New York was hesitant to do in trading Carmelo Anthony over the summer.
Since the NBA returned to Charlotte in 2004, no player has been more synonymous with pro basketball here than point guard Kemba Walker. For the first time in Walker’s six-plus seasons in the Queen City, that relationship appears in jeopardy. In a lengthy and emotional interview following practice Friday, Walker expressed how knitted he is to Charlotte, to the Hornets and particularly to coach Steve Clifford. “That’s my guy. It’s gotten to be bigger than basketball with me and Cliff,” Walker said of his coach the past four-plus seasons. We’ve gotten along from Day 1. I love the way he coaches us – the enthusiasm and the passion he has for the game. It rubs off on people. It has definitely rubbed off on me. He has turned me into a whole different player and person.”
A source familiar with the situation said so far the Hornets’ discussions with other teams involving Kemba Walker have been more exploratory than necessarily on a fast track to a deal. In order to trade away this team’s best and most marketable player, the Hornets would probably have to accomplish at least two agendas: Attach a trade for Walker to discarding a problematic contract (Nicolas Batum’s five-season, $120 million deal, for instance), plus acquire assets in the form of one or more young prospects and/or first-round picks.
Walker did his best to stay composed during post-practice media Friday, but he said it would be devastating to be traded out of Charlotte. “This is the first time I’ve been in this kind of situation,” Walker said of the trade chatter. I’ve been here for the last seven years, and I’m going to do what I can do to help my team win games. That’s all I can do.” And if the Hornets sent him packing? “I’d be pretty upset,” said Walker, who is about 800 points away from supplanting Dell Curry as the all-time career scorer in Charlotte NBA history. “I have put my heart and soul into this city.”
While the Knicks are in a developmental mode with rookie project point guard Frank Ntilikina as one of the centerpieces of their rebuilding plan, an All-Star point guard hailing from New York has come on the trade market in Kemba Walker. The Hornets, faced with luxury-tax issues, want to shed Walker’s contract as they are not even in the playoff hunt, ESPN.com reports. An NBA source, despite speculation linking the Knicks and Walker, told The Post the club has not made contact with Charlotte about Walker to date.
One thought — if the Knicks get into the sweepstakes — is giving up their 2019 first-round pick along with Ntilikina in hopes of Charlotte taking on the remaining years of Joakim Noah’s contract. (The Hornets can always use the stretch provision on Noah after the season). Another NBA source added that the Hornets will be asking teams to take back one of their larger contracts like, Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, making a Knicks’ match even more unlikely.
Reporter: Do you think it’s gonna be hard for you to function between now and Feb. 8th (trade deadline)? Kemba Walker: “No, I’m a pro, man. This is what I do. I play basketball and I go hard each and every day regardless of what’s going on in my life (…) If anything I’d rather be playing than just sitting around. Basketball is what helps me cope with anything, so no, it won’t be a problem at all.”
Kemba Walker would look great in a Detroit Pistons uniform. But is the Charlotte Hornets star point guard worth the price? A person with firsthand knowledge of the situation indicated the Pistons are indeed interested in Walker, who reportedly has been made available by the Hornets.
Overloaded with bad contracts and untradable assets, the Charlotte Hornets have made All-Star point guard Kemba Walker available in trade discussions, league sources told ESPN.
Chris Kroeger: Spoke to Kemba and Cliff about this last week. Cliff: “I’d be shocked if he didn’t want to be here. I’ve been around long enough to know you never say never, but I just can’t see a scenario where that plays out.” twitter.com/wojespn/status…
Steve Kyler: At this point I was told odds of a Kemba trade so low not worth speculating. He is eligible for a Max extension this summer. Thats when Hornets make a decision.
The Michael Jordan-owned Hornets are going nowhere. Yet we advise you to track them at least through the Feb. 8 trade deadline because Charlotte will probably be forced to consider dealing Kemba Walker. If Walker stays, Jordan risks losing his best player without compensation in the summer of 2019 — or, perhaps worse, paying big bucks to hang on to him instead of starting an overdue tear-down of a pricey but mediocre roster.
Chris Kroeger: Steve Clifford on Kemba trade rumors: “I’d be shocked if he didn’t want to be here. I mean…he’s building a house here right now… I’ve been around long enough to know you never say never, but I just can’t see a scenario where that plays out.” #Hornets #BuzzCity
So what if Charlotte traded Walker to begin to ease its financial burdens, as well as to jump-start a rebuild? Say, for example, Walker was shipped to his hometown New York Knicks, along with Williams, for rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina, Joakim Noah and New York’s 2018 first-round pick. That would save Charlotte about $4 million next season while giving it an intriguing young point guard to install as Walker’s successor. It would also help Charlotte’s first-round pick move into the top five in the lottery, giving the team a chance to land a star in a top-heavy draft, as well as another pick in the middle of the round.
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March 20, 2018 | 5:14 am EDT Update
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry is targeting a return to action on Friday against the Atlanta Hawks, the team’s next opponent, league sources told ESPN. The two-time MVP will have his right ankle re-evaluated on Tuesday. If the evaluation reveals enough progress and there are no unforeseen setbacks from this point to Friday, the sharpshooter intends to play after missing the past five games, sources said.
Marc Gasol said he will have questions about the direction of the team after the offseason. How will you reassure him that Memphis remains the best fit for him at this stage of his career? Chris Wallace: Marc is having a terrific career here, both individually – being a multiple All-Star, being defensive player of the year, the All-NBA recognition. And he’s had tremendous team success. So, I don’t think one off year from the team success side tarnishes what he’s achieved or necessarily is going to be the norm going forward for the Grizzlies. This happens to all sorts of teams, where you have not as good a year as where you expect to be. But that doesn’t mean you can’t jump right back in and be successful again next year and that’s what our goal is. And he’s a big part of that.
Shumpert is almost certain to opt in for next season. Having dealt with foot and knee injuries, this is not the time for Shumpert to test free agency when he has $11 million guaranteed for next season, even if he’s not a part of the Kings’ long-term plans. I’m intrigued by what Shumpert might add. He’s only 27 and has shown he can play in pressure situations, having been a part of Cleveland’s 2016 NBA championship team. Shumpert will be motivated to show the rest of the league he is healthy and that he can play a key role on a team.
Donatas Urbonas: Gudaitis confirmed he met with Cavaliers representatives in Milano. They invited Gudaitis to work out in Cleveland upcoming summer. Gudaitis told his priority is National Team and FIBA 19 qualifiers. But if everything is ok with the schedule, he’ll come to Cleveland
Now that you’re in New York, this is a totally different market. How have you felt about the way the city has embraced you? Michael Beasley: Honestly, I couldn’t ask for anything better. For the city and fans to embrace not only the way I play but who I am as much as they did – it feels great to be able to be yourself and be accepted. I thank the city forever for that. It’s unfortunate we couldn’t win as much as we wanted to this year.
Players like DeMar DeRozan and Kevin Love have talked about that anxiety. Do you think that has helped others be more open with their own struggles? Michael Beasley: Hats off to those guys, man. More people than you think go through that. I go through it. It took me awhile to realize it because we’re raised to believe that it’s an embarrassing thing. It’s definitely inspiring for them to be honest about what they are experiencing. They opened up the floodgates, they opened up the doors, for the next great NBA player or even the next great scientist. The next shy kid with anxiety can break out of their shell because of this.
I watched your interview with Taylor Rooks on SNY where you talked about parenting your daughter, painting your nails. I thought that was super cool. Michael Beasley: [Laughs] Listen, man. I lost my hood card because I’ve got paint on my nails, bro. So that’s good to hear. My four-year-old will be five in April. Not much will change in those years. I think it’s cool. People should be themselves no matter what anyone says and how it feels. Just be comfortable with being yourself.