One of the top free agent targets for the Los Angeles Lakers, the organization was keeping a close eye on to see if Kemba Walker made the 2018-19 All-NBA Teams. Walker was named as a third-teamer this afternoon and immediately became eligible to receive the Supermax extension from the Charlotte Hornets. With the Hornets now able to pay Walker astronomically more money compared to any other team, Walker’s status as a free agent target for the Lakers is now up in the air.
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Lakers’ Kemba Walker Free Agency Push Takes Turn With All-NBA News
While the Supermax deal didn’t stop players like Paul George or Kawhi Leonard from jumping ship, Walker is a bit older than George and Leonard and hasn’t come close to commanding that type of money before in his NBA career. With a chance for a life-altering payday that could support generations of Kemba’s family, it would be hard for the underrated guard to pass the money up.
Comparing the two offers, it isn’t really close. The Lakers can offer Walker a max of four years and $141 million while the Hornets can offer $80 million more on top of an additional year. While Walker may want to hit the open market once more before he retires, at his age taking the full five-year max makes sense.
Walker has shown to be incredibly loyal to Charlotte and has said multiple times that he wants to stay a Hornet. However, the team hasn’t shown any capacity to build an actual winner around him and allocating such a huge portion of the cap to Walker might make that even tougher. Charlotte is likely a place where Kemba will never win a ring so unless he wants to wait until he’s an aging vet to go ring chasing, this might be his last chance to play for a winner in his prime.
How the Lakers can Build A Contender With Kemba and LeBron
If the Lakers by some miracle are able to coax Walker to LA for nearly $80 million less, they still would have their work cut out for them. Signing Walker to such a lucrative deal only to stick former second-round pick, Lonzo Ball, on the bench to wither away makes little to no sense. A number of teams are in the market for a point guard and Lonzo should be able to command a fairly high price on the open market. While not viewed at in the same light as he was when taken second overall, Ball is still an elite young talent that most teams would be willing to pay up for.
First and foremost, the Lakers would need to look for a competent big man for Walker and James to play off of. In terms of the rest of the backcourt, Ingram showed great promise at the two guard last season and his size and defensive improvements should go a long ways towards helping to offset any defensive deficiencies that Walker brings to the table. The Lakers also still have Josh Hart as well as the fourth overall draft pick to help address that issue as well.
With Ingram’s stats putting him on pace to have a breakout season, the Lakers would have a dangerous three-headed monster on the offensive end and should be able to hang with most teams on any given night. While the roster may require a bit of tinkering in terms of which supporting members are brought on, they should at least contend right away and could be seriously expected to make a push for a title in one of LeBron’s final two years.