For the second consecutive season, four-time NBA All-Star Kemba Walker had been traded in what was essentially a salary dump. The New York Knicks traded him, along with the draft rights to Jalen Duren, to the Detroit Pistons to help themselves open up cap room to sign Jalen Brunson in free agency.
The expectation was that the Pistons would waive Walker following the trade. Although there’s no indication he’ll play a minute for them, Walker remains on the Pistons’ roster. Walker, who attended a preseason game between his two former teams, the Boston Celtics and Charlotte Hornets, on October 7, revealed his thoughts on potentially rejoining the Hornets to Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe.
“That would be special,” Walker told Washburn. “[But] as far as closing my career, I’ve got a few more years left, in my opinion, so I’m not thinking about that yet. We’ll see. I’m just waiting. [Nobody’s] reached out to me. I’m just waiting.”
The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported on July 25 that the Hornets were interested in reuniting with Walker. Of course, they couldn’t do that then, just like they can’t now because Walker has not been waived by the Pistons.
Walker Believes He Can Still Play
Knee issues have plagued Walker dating back to when he was playing for the Celtics. Although Walker is not as productive as he was when he was making all-star teams, he believes that he can still play. He’s merely waiting for the opportunity to prove it, as he told Washburn.
“I’ve got something in the tank, for sure,” he said. “I feel great. I’m going to be honest. I’m going to have my opportunity. I’m not in any rush right now. I’m just grinding and trying to feel as good as I can. And right now, I feel great. I feel as good as I’ve felt in a long time. I’m just waiting for the opportunity.”
Walker made it clear that, no matter what role he has, he still wants to play in the NBA.
“I just want to be able to play basketball again; I don’t care if it’s the bench or not,” he said. “I started off my career playing basketball coming off the bench. Who cares? I just want to be able to play ball like I love to do, being around some great, great teammates and just have fun.”
Walker also made it clear the league knows what he’s capable of, despite his knee issues.
“It’s never been basketball [performance]. It’s just been my knee,” Walker said. “I don’t have [anything] to prove. Everybody knows what I’m about over the years, what I have done in this league.”
Walker’s Performance Last Season
After acquiring him from the Celtics, the Oklahoma City Thunder waived Walker, paving the way for him to sign with the Knicks.
Walker was in and out of the Knicks’ rotation throughout the 2021-22 season. In the 37 games he played for them, he averaged 11.6 points, 3.5 assists, and three rebounds – all career lows – while shooting 40.3 percent from the field and 36.7 percent from three.
Although Walker did not put up the numbers he did with the Celtics and Hornets, occasionally, his old self would show itself.
Until further notice, Walker will be on the Pistons when the new season begins.