“At this point, I want to win. I want to be in the playoffs,” Walker told the Observer on Monday morning. “I’m tired of not being in the playoffs. … I hate watching them on TV. “I’ve been there twice in seven years, and it’s just not fun” missing out.
“I’ve always felt like I’m a winning player. Like I deserved it to be in the playoffs – to be battling,” Walker said. “That’s what it will be all about in the future.”
Zach Lowe: What [did Kemba Walker] wanna know about [potentially getting traded after the Adrian Wojnarowski report came out]? Steve Clifford: I think I was more proactive with him, just explaining to him that A) there's no untradeable player. Go back through NBA history, and player could be traded. But B) I told him it would be very difficult to find a scenario where he could be traded. And the fact that there were rumors, which is gonna happen, is because he's such a good player making less money than he's worth by a lot. So of course, there were gonna be calls.
Steve Clifford: That was the first part of it. Then I know after shootaround, by the time we had gotten back to the arena that night, Michael Jordan had called him and spoke to him, and explained to him that we weren't looking to trade him. And basically we went through the whole thing. Kemba said that Michael was very forthcoming and said, 'Listen. If there is an unbelievable trade with Player A and Player B, and it would make our team a lot better, of course, anybody could be traded.' But then I explained to him, 'Look, you're not gonna be traded. You're gonna be here. You're the face of our franchise.' And I thought Kemba handled it great.
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.
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
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.
September 17, 2021 | 4:34 am EDT Update
Marc Gasol is a name to watch. He just wiggled his way away from the Lakers and, according to an ESPN report, plans to remain in Spain while sorting out the next (and perhaps last) phase of his playing career. Gasol nearly signed with the Warriors last summer — and might have done so had Thompson not ruptured his Achilles before free agency. It may never materialize, but he has the exact passing acumen and center skill set that has traditionally fit Kerr’s offense best, similar to David West and Andrew Bogut.
Frank Vogel’s former assistant coach Jason Kidd left the Los Angeles Lakers to become the head coach of the Dallas Mavericks. He joined fellow former NBA stars Richard Jefferson and Kendrick Perkins on ESPN’s The Jump to talk about his visit to Slovenia for the signing of a 5-year $207 million super max extension with Luka Doncic. “One, [Slovenia] is a beautiful country,” Kidd recalled his visit to Luka’s homeland. “I had a lot of fun and spending time at dinner with Luka and also at the press conference. What an incredible 22-year-old. He’s wise before his years. So I’m just excited to have the opportunity to coach him.”
“It was incredible again. Another beautiful place,” Kidd said on ESPN’s The Jump. “I got to hang out with KP. We had a couple dinners, I got to see him work out. But I also got to just see him on his turf I think a lot of times we don’t get to see our Europeans their homes. So I got the opportunity to go over there and hang out and we had a great time. “KP’s incredible not just a basketball player but a person. We all know.. well, I just learned that he loves the fights, the boxing matches and stuff like that. You look at just learning something new about a person by going to their hometown was something that I was excited about doing and I had a great time.”
There’s no denying that Denver Nuggets stud Michael Porter Jr. is one of the brightest young talents in the NBA today. However, for those who may not be too familiar with his injury history, there was actually one point in his career that people doubted if he would ever be able to play again. Apparently, one of his biggest non-believers happened to be the head doctor for the Los Angeles Clippers. The Nuggets forward remembers that exact moment to this very day: “All Top 10 teams have their doctors there and they’re just evaluating me,” Porter said in a recent appearance on JJ Redick’s The Old Man & the Three podcast. “The guy from the Clippers was the head doctor and he’s the one that wrote the report, it’s like, ‘yeah, he probably will never play again.’”
In this Club Shay Shay clip, the new Phoenix Suns big man JaVale McGee tells Shannon Sharpe what to expect in his former Golden State Warriors teammate Klay Thompson’s return: “I expect the old Klay. I can maybe see him slacking on defense in the first month because in the offseason you don’t get those reps. But offensively, he didn’t hurt his arm, so that boy is going to shoot.”
UFC fighter Ryan Spann trains at the gym owned by ex-NBA star Deron Williams … and the light heavyweight contender once sparred with the hooper — AND GOT HIS BUTT KICKED!! “Deron whooped my ass one day. I’m dead serious. You can call him and ask him,” Spann told TMZ Sports.
Context? We talked to the 30-year-old, 6’5″, 205 lb. fighter just days before he’s set to face 6th ranked LHW, Anthony Smith … and we asked the 11th ranked fighter if he ever rolled around with 6’3″ Williams at their gym, Fortis MMA in Dallas. “I was training for a fight, and coach was like, ‘Deron, get in.’ And, I already knew he hooped, and I knew who he was, but I never got to go with him,” Ryan said, “I think it was my 2nd or my 3rd round with a fresh body, and you put Deron in, I was like, ‘Oh s**t, nice, I get a round off.’ Little did I know Deron used to wrestle. And, he was about 230 at the time.”
Gabrielle Union, the wife of former Miami Heat superstar Dwyane Wade, recently opened up about the trauma she endured when Wade had a child with another woman during their relationship. Union and Wade weren’t married at the time, but they were several years into a relationship with each other. “In 2013, before we were married, Dwyane had a baby with another woman,” Union wrote in her new memoir. “It should go without saying that we were not in a good place in our relationship at the time that child was conceived. But we were in a much better place when he finally told me about the pregnancy. To say I was devastated is to pick a word on a low shelf for convenience. There are people — strangers who I will never meet — who have been upset that I have not previously talked about that trauma. I have not had words, and even after untold amounts of therapy I am not sure I have them now. But truth matters.”