Point guard Kemba Walker plans to sign with the Knicks after being bought out of his deal by the Oklahoma City Thunder, reports SNY’s Ian Begley. A source told Begley the Knicks expect to use the rest of their cap space — which is $8 million — on the Walker deal.
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The Knicks also are hopeful for a free-agent meeting with 2019 Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, according to a source, and have interest in New York City native Kemba Walker and New Jersey native Kyrie Irving.
With free agency less than three weeks away, the situation in Charlotte certainly bears watching. If the Hornets offer Walker a max deal, it seems logical to assume that he stays there. Of course, only Walker — and Walker alone — knows what he wants to do this summer. And he probably won’t have a strong idea about where he wants to sign until he meets with the Hornets or other suitors in a few weeks. But some opposing execs monitoring Charlotte’s free agent situation believe, currently, that if Walker chose to sign somewhere outside of Charlotte, going to New York isn’t a likely outcome for the point guard, per SNY sources.
He’s heard the reports that teams like New York and Dallas may be lining up to make a max offer, and he’s heard even more speculation that a return to his hometown plays to his heart. But he cherishes how his career and relationship with his new home have flourished. “Charlotte is my home, man,” Walker said. “I’ve been there for eight years and it’s been the most amazing eight years of my life. My family, they love it. The fans love me. The organization has been great and gave me my opportunity.”
It’s also worth noting here that some in the Knicks organization are high on fellow free agent point guard Kemba Walker, sources say. But that probably doesn’t matter if Durant tells the Knicks that he’ll sign with them, and that he wants to play with Irving.
Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker also has fans in the Knicks organization. Multiple executives doing their homework on the free agent class, though, fully expect Durant to sign with the Knicks and Irving to join him.
Kemba Walker didn’t shut the door completely, leaving it open just enough to give Knicks fans a glimmer of hope. “I don’t have any interest in coming back home — right now,” the Hornets’ free-agent-to-be point guard said when asked if playing for his hometown Knicks would appeal to him.
Walker was most pleased with the final quarter, in which he didn’t step on the floor. He didn’t offer any hints of his future plans, saying he’s focused on the Hornets’ season and leading them back to the playoffs after two straight seasons in the lottery. “I have no idea. I’m in the season right now,” he said. “Whenever the time comes, it comes.”
“I’ve been hearing it for years now, the Knicks,” Walker said then. “Every time I come home, it’s ‘When are you coming home to the Knicks?’ MSG is a special place, man. The Knicks are a special team. Of course, I’ve been a Knicks fan growing up, always rooted for the home team. But I really can’t see myself in a Knicks jersey — only because I’ve been in one jersey. I really don’t know.”
JJ Redick: “This week, you did the NBPA camp, and the New York media asked you about playing at home… I feel like this notion, of playing at home, a lot of guys don’t want to do it. Why do you think that is?” Kemba Walker: “I think it’s just hard coming back home. New York is New York. I’m from here. But you know, I’m just very comfortable in Charlotte. That’s why I gave [the media] those answers. Charlotte was the first team to give me my opportunity out of college, and during the draft, I had no idea where I was going. So I get asked questions about New York all the time, and I’m like, ‘I don’t know.’ I’ve been on one team my whole entire career so far and I’ll be a free agent next season, so, we’ll see.”
Kemba Walker can’t avoid it. Whenever he sets foot in the five boroughs, the questions come from every direction. “I’ve been hearing it for years,” Walker said Thursday, after working with youngsters at the National Basketball Players Association summer camp. “Every time I come home, ‘When are you going to come home and play for the Knicks?’ I know it’s a special place, I was a Knicks fan growing up, always rooted for the home team. But I just can’t see myself in a Knicks jersey, only because I’ve only been in one jersey.”
Walker, who will earn $12 million this season before becoming an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2019, was asked if we could ever see himself in New York for a homecoming. “As far as seeing me in New York, I doubt it,” Walker replied. “I’m a Hornet, and I’m planning on being a Hornet for a long time, so, yeah, I’m not sure about that (New York).”
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.
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.
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September 19, 2021 | 7:06 am EDT Update
Clutch Points: Isaiah Thomas is expected to work out with the Golden State Warriors on Monday, sources tell @markhaynesnba. pic.twitter.com/aXdiqpdJcl
Lakers legend Pau Gasol, Marc’s older brother, recently sat down with Spanish newspaper Marca as he discussed the future of his sibling. Pau’s response was cryptic, but it is clear that he is hoping that Marc returns to Spain: “Marc has earned the freedom and flexibility to make his own decision and he will do so when he decides,” Pau said (h/t Sam Yip of Fan Nation). “I know he has a lot of enthusiasm for Basquet Girona, a club in which I am also involved as vice president. He is in a different situation, because he is five years younger than me. We will see what he decides to do this season and later, I am also waiting.”
“I’ve been on him about things I need from him,” Billups said. “I said, ‘Nurk, I know you are going to be a free agent, and I understand you have to have a great year. You need me for you to have a great year, and I need you for us to have a good year. We need each other, right?’ “I’m going to give him every opportunity to have a great year. Because if he has a great year, that means we are a pretty damn good team. Because he is a good player. But that means he has to be focused and be in shape. Because you are only going to play as many minutes as you are physically able. If you are out there tired, uh-uh, come on, gotta get you out. There are good players behind you.”
It is unclear exactly what Nurkic and his role will look like under Billups, but to hear Nurkic talk, Billups has given him a vision of being more involved on both ends. Billups has been careful not to publicly define roles, but in general, he has preached that the offense will include more ball movement. “I just want to feel wanted, and I think I just need more support, and what I mean by that is different playing style, more inside-out game, more chance,” Nurkic said. “More chance to be successful and the position where they put you in. It’s all about the coach and where they put you, and I think Chauncey has figured out that certain people are going to have one to three points less, but the team is going to be way more successful with ball movement and playing together and be more fun. Even at the defensive end.”
Virtus Bologna’s win over LBA newcomer Tortona in SuperCup Quarterfinal game yesterday night was overshadowed by a serious injury occurred to Nigerian center Ekpe Udoh, who appears to have injured his patellar tendon in a no-contact situation. Former Fenerbahce center was taken out of the court in a stretcher and after the game coach Sergio Scariolo confirmed the seriousness of the injury, adding that the team will look for a replacement in the market: “He’s our cornerstone, both on attack and on defense. It’s dramatic, I hope that it serves to understand that you need to respect the players. Here there are stickers on the court everywhere, in the NBA it’s not the case. We will look for a replacement”.
“We are in shock and worried,” Scariolo said after the game on Udoh’s injury. The Italian coach spoke against the use of slippery stickers on basketball floors which have often caused players to hurt themselves.