With the Boston Celtics‘ disappointing 2020-21 season in the rearview mirror, major roster moves are clearly on the horizon. And perhaps more than any other player, Kemba Walker’s name is getting bandied about as a potential trading chip.
Although he was an All-Star during his first go-round with the franchise, he failed to match the prolific output of his Charlotte Hornets days. Things got worse this season, too, when injuries limited him to just 43 games played.
Even when he did play in ’20-21, Walker’s output still left fans questioning his massive, $34-plus million price tag. Never mind the fact that he put up 19.3 points, 4.9 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game and logged an effective field goal percentage over 50.
In the eyes of many, he was getting paid like a No. 1, but performing at the level of a No. 3 or No. 4 at best.
Consequently, there has been chatter that Walker himself has seen the writing on the wall and would prefer to seek a career revival somewhere outside of Beantown. Meanwhile, Boston is said to be interested in making a change as well.
More recently though, a Celtics insider has indicated that reports of Walker’s discontent may be greatly exaggerated.
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B/R Report Refuted
According to Bleacher Report, a Celtics/Kemba breakup has been in the works for some time, with then-GM Danny Ainge having worked to swap Walker for Jrue Holiday previously. However, a new report is strongly refuting that anything of the sort ever occurred.
As relayed by WCVB’s Chris Gasper, a team source has “vehemently denied” that the Cs were shopping Walker or pursuing Holiday. The source apparently classified the rumor as “total garbage.”
Furthermore, the team source indicated that Walker has never spoken with Boston brass about a soured relationship or wanting to move on. Instead, he is focused on little more beyond “getting as healthy as possible” in an attempt to avoid a repeat of this season.
In any case, even if both parties were ready to move on, actually making it happen could prove to be quite the task.
Walker is still under contract for next season, in addition to owning a player option for 2022-23. And perimeter players on the wrong side of 30, with a history of knee problems, who also have two years and more than $73 million left on their deals, aren’t exactly the most tradeable players in the Association.
Walker Still Has Something Left in the Tank
Injuries and cap considerations aside, Walker clearly still has a lot to offer as a basketball player. His basic numbers put him comfortably in the top half of floor generals league-wide in ’20-21. And some of the advanced metrics portray him in an equally favorable light.
Walker’s net rating of 3.1 was the second-best mark on the team among players logging heavy minutes this season. Additionally, his offensive real plus/minus score of 2.17 was better than those of point guards like Holiday, Russell Westbrook and All-Stars Chris Paul, Mike Conley and Ben Simmons.
Meanwhile, he actually bested his career averages per 36 minutes in points (21.8) and rebounds (4.5).